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Distr . 

GENERAL 

S/25500 
1 April 1993 
ENGLISH 

ORIGINAL: ENGLI SH/ SPANI SH 


LETTER DATED 29 MARCH 1993 FROM THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSED 
TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL 


I have the honour to transmit herewith the report presented on 
15 March 1993 by the Commission on the Truth established under the peace 
agreements between the Government of El Salvador and the Frente Farabundo Marti 
para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) (see annex) . 

As you are aware, the report contains a set of recommendations that are 
binding on the Parties. As part of the mandate entrusted to the United Nations 
to verify implementation of all agreements reached between the Government of 
El Salvador and FMLN, I have today addressed to the President of El Salvador and 
the General Coordinator of FMLN requests that each of them inform ONUSAL of the 
measures he intends to take to implement the recommendations of the Commission, 
together with the timetable for the execution of such measures. 

Also today, the Acting Chief of the United Nations Observer Mission in 
El Salvador, General Victor Suanzes, has been instructed to address a letter to 
the Comision Nacional para la Consolidacion de la Paz (COPAZ) , which, under the 
peace agreements, is mandated to supervise the implementation of political 
agreements reached between the Parties. In that letter. General Suanzes will 
inform COPAZ of the request for information which I have addressed to the 
Government of El Salvador and FMLN and will ask the Commission to inform ONUSAL 
of the steps it intends to take to discharge the responsibilities entrusted to 
it under the peace agreements. 

I should be grateful if you would bring this information to the attention 
of the members of the Security Council. 


( Signed ) Boutros BOUTROS-GHALI 


93-20927 (E) 


190593 


270593 


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Annex 


[Original: Spanish] 


FROM MADNESS TO HOPE 
The 12-year war in El Salvador 


REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON THE TRUTH 
FOR EL SALVADOR 


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THE COMMISSION ON THE TRUTH 
FOR EL SALVADOR 


Belisario Betancur 
Chairman 


Reinaldo Figueredo 


Planchart 


Thomas Buergenthal 


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CONTENTS 

Page 

I. INTRODUCTION 10 

II. THE MANDATE 18 

A. The mandate 18 

B. Applicable law 20 

C. Methodology 22 

III. CHRONOLOGY OF THE VIOLENCE 2 6 

IV. CASES AND PATTERNS OF VIOLENCE 43 

A. General overview of cases and patterns of violence 43 

B. Violence against opponents by agents of the State 45 

1. Illustrative case: the murders of the Jesuit Priests 

(1989) 45 

2. Extrajudicial executions 54 

(a) San Francisco Guajoyo (1980) 54 

(b) The leaders of the Frente Democratico Revolucionario 

(1980) 58 

(c) The American churchwomen (1980) 62 

(d) El Junquillo (1981) 67 

(e) The Dutch journalists (1982) 69 

(f) Las Hojas (1983) 76 

(g) San Sebastian (1988) 80 

(h) Attack on an FMLN hospital and execution of a nurse 

(1989) 87 

(i) Garcia Arandigoyen (1990) 89 

(j) FENASTRAS and COMADRES (1989) 92 

(k) Oqueli and Flores (1990) 96 

3. Enforced disappearances 101 

(a) Ventura and Mejia (1980) 101 

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CONTENTS (continued) 

Page 

(b) Rivas Hernandez (1986) 103 

(c) Chan Chan and Massi (1989) 107 

C. Massacres of peasants by the armed forces 114 

1. Illustrative case: El Mozote (1981) 114 

2. Sumpul River (1980) 121 

3. El Calabozo (1982) 125 

4. Pattern of conduct 126 

D. Death squad assassinations 127 

1. Illustrative case: Archbishop Romero (1980) 127 

2. The death squad pattern 131 

3. Zamora (1980) 139 

4. Tehuicho (1980) 142 

5. Viera, Hammer and Pearlman (1981) 144 

E. Violence against opponents by the Frente Farabundo Marti para 

la Liberacion Nacional 148 

1. Illustrative case: summary execution of Mayors 

(1985-1988) 148 

2. Extrajudicial executions 153 

(a) Zona Rosa (1985) 153 

(b) Anaya Sanabria (1987) 157 

(c) Romero Garcia "Miguel Castellanos" (1989) 162 

(d) Peccorini Lettona (1989) 163 

(e) Garcia Alvarado (1989) 163 

(f) Guerrero (1989) 163 

(g) United States soldiers who survived the shooting 

down of a helicopter (1991) 167 

3. Abductions: Duarte and Villeda (1985) 169 

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CONTENTS (continued) 


Page 


F. Murders of Judges (1988) 170 

V. RECOMMENDATIONS 172 

VI. Epilogue: the seekers after peace 187 

VII. Instruments establishing the Commission's mandate 189 

VIII. Persons working on the Commission on the Truth 193 

Annexes * 

Volume I 


1. EL MOZOTE: REPORTS OF THE FORENSIC INVESTIGATION 

2. EL MOZOTE: PHOTOGRAPHIC REPORT 

3. PRESS ANALYSIS 

4 . TEXTS OF THE PEACE AGREEMENTS 
Volume II 

5. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF THE TESTIMONY RECEIVED BY THE COMMISSION 
ON THE TRUTH 

6. LISTS OF VICTIMS SUBMITTED TO THE COMMISSION ON THE TRUTH 

A. DIRECT SOURCE: VICTIMS WHOSE IDENTITY IS NOT CONFIDENTIAL 

B. DIRECT SOURCE: VICTIMS WHOSE IDENTITY IS CONFIDENTIAL 

C. INDIRECT SOURCE 

7. LISTS OF DISAPPEARED PERSONS COMPILED BY THE UNITED NATIONS 
WORKING GROUP 

8. LIST OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES KILLED IN THE ARMED CONFLICT 

9. LIST OF MEMBERS OF FMLN KILLED IN THE ARMED CONFLICT 


* The annexes are available for consultation in the language of 
submission (Spanish) in the Dag Hammarsjkold Library. 


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. . . all these things happened among us ..." 

MAYAN POEM 



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I. INTRODUCTION 


Between 1980 and 1991, the Republic of El Salvador in Central America was 
engulfed in a war which plunged Salvadorian society into violence, left it with 
thousands and thousands of people dead and exposed it to appalling crimes, until 
the day - 16 January 1992 - when the parties, reconciled, signed the Peace 
Agreement in the Castle of Chapultepec, Mexico, and brought back the light and 
the chance to re-emerge from madness to hope. 

A. INSTITUTIONS AND NAMES 

Violence was a fire which swept over the fields of El Salvador; it burst 
into villages, cut off roads and destroyed highways and bridges, energy sources 
and transmission lines; it reached the cities and entered families, sacred areas 
and educational centres; it struck at justice and filled the public 
administration with victims; and it singled out as an enemy anyone who was not 
on the list of friends. Violence turned everything to death and destruction, 
for such is the senselessness of that breach of the calm plenitude which 
accompanies the rule of law, the essential nature of violence being suddenly or 
gradually to alter the certainty which the law nurtures in human beings when 
this change does not take place through the normal mechanisms of the rule of 
law. The victims were Salvadorians and foreigners of all backgrounds and all 
social and economic classes, for in its blind cruelty violence leaves everyone 
equally defenceless. 

When there came pause for thought, Salvadorians put their hands to their 
hearts and felt them pound with joy. No one was winning the war, everyone was 
losing it. Governments of friendly countries and organizations the world over 
that had looked on in anguish at the tragic events in that Central American 
country which, although small, was made great by the creativity of its people - 
all contributed their ideas to the process of reflection. A visionary, 

Javier Perez de Cuellar, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, heeded 
the unanimous outcry and answered it. The Presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Spain 
and Venezuela supported him. The Chapultepec Agreement expressed the support of 
the new Secretary-General, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for the search for 
reconciliation . 

B. THE CREATIVE CONSEQUENCES 

On the long road of the peace negotiations, the need to reach agreement on 
a Commission on the Truth arose from the Parties' recognition that the communism 
which had encouraged one side had collapsed, and perhaps also from the 
disillusionment of the Power which had encouraged the other. It emerged as a 
link in the chain of reflection and agreement and was motivated, ultimately, by 
the impact of events on Salvadorian society, which now faced the urgent task of 
confronting the issue of the widespread, institutionalized impunity which had 
struck at its very heart: under the protection of State bodies but outside the 

law, repeated human rights violations had been committed by members of the armed 
forces; these same rights had also been violated by members of the guerrilla 
forces . 


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In response to this situation, the negotiators agreed that such repugnant 
acts should be referred to a Commission on the Truth, which was the name they 
agreed to give it from the outset. Unlike the Ad Hoc Commission, so named 
because there was no agreement on what to call the body created to purify the 
armed forces, the Commission on the Truth was so named because its very purpose 
and function were to seek, find and publicize the truth about the acts of 
violence committed by both sides during the war. 

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as the oath goes. 

The overall truth and the specific truth, the radiant but quiet truth. The 
whole and its parts, in other words, the bright light shone onto a surface to 
illuminate it and the parts of this same surface lit up case by case, regardless 
of the identity of the perpetrators, always in the search for lessons that would 
contribute to reconciliation and to abolishing such patterns of behaviour in the 
new society. 

Learning the truth and strengthening and tempering the determination to 
find it out; putting an end to impunity and cover-up; settling political and 
social differences by means of agreement instead of violent action: these are 

the creative consequences of an analytical search for the truth. 

C . THE MANDATE 

Furthermore, by virtue of the scope which the negotiators gave to the 
agreements, it was understood that the Commission on the Truth would have to 
examine systematic atrocities both individually and collectively, since the 
flagrant human rights violations which had shocked Salvadorian society and the 
international community had been carried out not only by members of the armed 
forces but also by members of the insurgent forces. 

The peace agreements were unambiguous when, in article 2, they defined the 
mandate and scope of the Commission as follows: "The Commission shall have the 

task of investigating serious acts of violence that have occurred since 1980 and 
whose impact on society urgently demands that the public should know the truth" . 
Article 5 of the Chapultepec Peace Agreement gives the Commission the task of 
clarifying and putting an end to any indication of impunity on the part of 
officers of the armed forces and gives this explanation: "acts of this nature, 

regardless of the sector to which their perpetrators belong, must be the object 
of exemplary action by the law courts so that the punishment prescribed by law 
is meted out to those found responsible". 

It is clear that the peace negotiators wanted this new peace to be founded, 
raised and built on the transparency of a knowledge which speaks its name. It 
is also clear that this truth must be made public as a matter of urgency if it 
is to be not the servant of impunity but an instrument of the justice that is 
essential for the synchronized implementation of the agreements which the 
Commission is meant to facilitate. 


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D. "OPEN-DOOR" POLICY 

From the outset of their work, which began on 13 July 1992 when they were 
entrusted with their task by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the 
Commissioners could perceive the skill of those who had negotiated the 
agreements in the breadth of the mandate and authority given to the Commission. 
They realized that the Secretary-General, upon learning from competent 
Salvadorian judges of the numerous acts of violence and atrocities of 12 years 
of war, had not been wrong in seeking to preserve the Commission's credibility 
by looking beyond considerations of sovereignty and entrusting this task to 
three scholars from other countries, in contrast to what had been done in 
Argentina and Chile after the military dictatorships there had ended. The 
Commissioners also saw a glimmer of hope dawn in the hearts of the Salvadorian 
people when it became clear that the truth would soon be revealed, not through 
bias or pressure but in its entirety and with complete impartiality, a fact 
which helped to restore the faith of people at all levels that justice would be 
effective and fitting. Accordingly, in their first meeting with the media upon 
arriving in El Salvador, the Commissioners stated that they would not let 
themselves be pressured or impressed: they were after the objective truth and 

the hard facts. 

The Commissioners and the group of professionals who collaborated with them 
in the investigations succeeded in overcoming obstacles and limitations that 
made it difficult to establish what had really happened, starting with the brief 
period of time - six months - afforded them under the Chapultepec Agreement. 
Given the magnitude of their task, this time-frame, which seemed to stretch into 
Kafkaesque infinity when they embarked upon their task, ultimately seemed meagre 
and barely sufficient to allow them to complete their work satisfactorily. 

Throughout its mandate and while drafting its report, the Commission 
consistently sought to distance itself from events that had not been verified 
before it reached any conclusions. The whole of Salvadorian society, 
institutions and individuals familiar with acts of violence were invited to make 
them known to the Commission, under the guarantee of confidentiality and 
discretion provided for in the agreements. Paid announcements were placed in 
the press and on the radio and television to this end, and written and oral 
invitations were extended to the Parties to testify without restriction. 

Offices of the Commission were opened in various departmental capitals, 
including Chalatenango, Santa Ana and San Miguel. Written statements were 
taken, witnesses were heard, information from the sites of various incidents 
(e.g. El Calabozo, El Mozote, Sumpul river and Guancorita) was obtained. The 
Commission itself went to various departments with members of the professional 
team, occasionally travelling overland but more often in helicopters provided 
promptly and efficiently by ONUSAL. As the investigation moved forward, it 
continued to yield new pieces of evidence: anyone who might have been involved 

was summonsed to testify without restriction as to time or place, usually in the 
Commission's offices or in secret locations, often outside El Salvador in order 
to afford witnesses greater protection. 

The Commission maintained an "open-door" policy for hearing testimony and a 
"closed-door" policy for preserving confidentiality. Its findings illustrate 
the horrors of a war in which madness prevailed, and confirm beyond the shadow 
of a doubt that the incidents denounced, recorded and substantiated in this 


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report actually took place. Whenever the Commission decided that its 
investigation of a specific case had yielded sufficient evidence, the matter was 
recorded in detail, with mention of the guilty parties. When it was determined 
that no further progress could be made for the time being, the corresponding 
documentation that was not subject to secrecy was delivered to the courts or 
else kept confidential until new information enabled it to be reactivated. 

One fact must be squarely denounced: owing to the destruction or 

concealment of documents, or the failure to divulge the locations where numerous 
persons were imprisoned or bodies were buried, the burden of proof occasionally 
reverted to the Commission, the judiciary and citizens, who found themselves 
forced to reconstruct events. It will be up to those who administer the new 
system of justice to pursue these investigations and take whatever final 
decisions they consider appropriate at this moment in history. 

Inevitably, the list of victims is incomplete: it was compiled on the 

basis of the complaints and testimony received and confirmed by the Commission. 

E. A CONVULSION OF VIOLENCE 

The warped psychology engendered by the conflict led to a convulsion of 
violence. The civilian population in disputed or guerrilla-controlled areas was 
automatically assumed to be the enemy, as at El Mozote and the Sumpul river. 

The opposing side behaved likewise, as when mayors were executed, the killings 
justified as acts of war because the victims had obstructed the delivery of 
supplies to combatants, or when defenceless pleasure-seekers became military 
targets, as in the case of the United States marines in the Zona Rosa of San 
Salvador. Meanwhile, the doctrine of national salvation and the principle of 
"he who is not for me is against me" were cited to ignore the neutrality, 
passivity and defencelessness of journalists and church workers, who served the 
community in various ways. 

Such behaviour also led to the clandestine refinement of the death squads: 
the bullet which struck Monsignor Romero in the chest while he was celebrating 
mass on 24 March 1980 in a San Salvador church is a brutal symbol of the 
nightmare the country experienced during the war. And the murder of the six 
Jesuit priests 10 years later was the final outburst of the delirium that had 
infected the armed forces and the innermost recesses of certain government 
circles. The bullet in the portrait of Monsignor Romero, mute witness to this 
latest crime, repeats the nightmare image of those days. 

F. PHENOMENOLOGY OF VIOLENCE 

It is a universally accepted premise that the individual is the subject of 
any criminal situation, since humans alone possess will and can therefore take 
decisions based on will: it is individuals that commit crimes, not the 

institutions they have created. As a result, it is to individuals and not their 
institutions that the corresponding penalties established by law must be 
applied . 

However, there could be some situations in which the repetition of acts in 
time and space would seem to contradict the above premise. A situation of 
repeated criminal acts may arise in which different individuals act within the 


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same institution in unmistakably similar ways, independently of the political 
ideology of Governments and decision makers. This gives reason to believe that 
institutions may indeed commit crimes, if the same behaviour becomes a constant 
of the institution and, especially, if clear-cut accusations are met with a 
cover-up by the institution to which the accused belong and the institution is 
slow to act when investigations reveal who is responsible. In such 
circumstances, it is easy to succumb to the argument that repeated crimes mean 
that the institution is to blame. 

The Commission on the Truth did not fall into that temptation: at the 

beginning of its mandate, it received hints from the highest level to the effect 
that institutions do not commit crimes and therefore that responsibilities must 
be established by naming names. At the end of its mandate, it again received 
hints from the highest level, this time to the opposite effect, namely, that it 
should not name names, perhaps in order to protect certain individuals in 
recognition of their genuine and commendable eagerness to help create situations 
which facilitated the peace agreements and national reconciliation. 

However, the Commission believes that responsibility for anything that 
happened during the period of the conflict could not and should not be laid at 
the door of the institution, but rather of those who ordered the procedures for 
operating in the way that members of the institution did and also of those who, 
having been in a position to prevent such procedures, were compromised by the 
degree of tolerance and permissiveness with which they acted from their 
positions of authority or leadership or by the fact that they covered up 
incidents which came to their knowledge or themselves gave the order which led 
to the action in question. This approach protects institutions and punishes 
criminals . 

G. THE RECOVERY OF FAITH 

As this Commission submits its report, El Salvador is embarked on a 
positive and irreversible process of consolidation of internal peace and 
modification of conduct for the maintenance of a genuine, lasting climate of 
national coexistence. The process of reconciliation is restoring the nation's 
faith in itself and in its leaders and institutions. This does not mean that 
all the obstacles and difficulties in implementing the commitments made in the 
negotiations have been overcome: the particular sensitivity of some of these 

commitments, such as the commitment to purify the armed forces, is creating 
resistance to the administrative action which must be taken by 

President Alfredo Cristiani, who on many counts deserves widespread recognition 
as the driving force behind the peace agreements. 

One fundamental element of the agreements, and one which is critical for 
El Salvador's democratic future, is the unreserved, unconditional subordination 
of the military authorities to civilian authority, not only on paper but in 
reality: in a democratic system based on respect for the constitutional order 

and governed by the rule of law, there is room neither for conditions, personal 
compromises or the possibility of subverting order for personal reasons, nor for 
acts of intimidation against the President of the Republic who, by virtue of his 
office, is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. 


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H. THE RISK OF DELAYS 

The purification which is to follow the reports of the Ad Hoc Commission 
and the Commission on the Truth may seem inadvisable in cases where a person 
guilty of a serious crime in the past rectified his behaviour and contributed to 
the negotiated peace. This, however, is the small price that those who engage 
in punishable acts must pay, regardless of their position: they must accept it 

for the good of the country and the democratic future of the new Salvadorian 
society. Moreover, it is not up to the Commission to act on complaints, 
requests for pardon or pleas of attenuating circumstances from persons dismissed 
from the armed forces, because it has no binding judicial powers. It is not by 
resignation but by its creative attitude towards its new commitments and the new 
order of democratic coexistence that Salvadorian society as a whole will 
ultimately strike a balance in dealing with those who must take the blame for 
what they did during the conflict but deserve praise for what they did in the 
peace process. 

El Salvador needs new souls. By its response to the murder of the Jesuits, 
10 years after the assassination of Monsignor Romero by that nightmarish 
creation the "death squads", the military leadership showed just how far its 
position had hardened in daring to eliminate those it viewed as opponents, 
either because they were opponents or because they voiced concern, including 
church workers and journalists. In the uproar that followed, the most perverse 
sentiments came to the fore and the most absurd obfuscation was used in an 
attempt to cover up the truth as to who had given the orders. 

What is more, it would tarnish the image of the armed forces if they were 
to retain sufficient power to block the process of purification or impose 
conditions on it: if the guilty were not singled out and punished, the 

institution itself would be incriminated; no other interpretation is possible. 
Those who would have the armed forces choose this course must weigh the price of 
such an attitude in the eyes of history. 

I . FOUNDATION FOR THE TRUTH 

The mass of reports, testimony, newspaper and magazine articles and books 
published in Spanish and other languages that was accumulated prompted the 
establishment within the Commission on the Truth itself of a centre for 
documentation on the different forms of violence in El Salvador. The public 
information relating to the war (books, pamphlets, research carried out by 
Salvadorian and international bodies); testimony from 2,000 primary sources 
referring to more than 7,000 victims; information from secondary sources 
relating to more than 20,000 victims; information from official bodies in the 
United States and other countries; information provided by government bodies and 
FMLN; an abundant photographic and videotape record of the conflict and even of 
the Commission's own activities; all of this material constitutes an invaluable 
resource - a part of El Salvador's heritage because (despite the painful reality 
it records) a part of the country's contemporary history - for historians and 
analysts of this most distressing period and for those who wish to study this 
painful reality in order to reinforce the effort to spread the message "never 
again" . 


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What is to be done with this wealth of material in order to make it 
available to those around the world who are seeking peace, to bring these 
personal experiences to the attention of those who defend human rights? What is 
to be done when one is bound by the requirement of confidentiality for documents 
and testimony? What use is to be made of this example of the creativity of the 
United Nations at a time in contemporary history which is fraught with conflict 
and turmoil and for which the parallels and the answers found in the Salvadorian 
conflict may be of some relevance? 

To guarantee the confidentiality of testimony and of the many documents 
supplied by institutions and even by Governments and, at the same time, to 
provide for the possibility of consultation by academic researchers while 
preserving such confidentiality, the Commission obtained the agreement of the 
Parties and the consent and support of the International Rule of Law Center of 
George Washington University in Washington, D.C., which, since 1992, has been 
administering and maintaining the collection of documents relating to the 
transition to peace in countries under the rule of oppression and countries 
emerging from armed conflicts. In addition, the Commission has already sought 
the cooperation of Governments, academic institutions and international 
foundations, always on the clear understanding that it holds itself personally 
responsible for guaranteeing confidentiality before finally handing the archives 
over to their lawful owners. 

The Foundation for the Truth would be a not-for-profit academic body 
governed by statutes conforming to United States law. It would be managed by an 
international Board of Directors, with Salvadorian participation; a 
representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the members of 
the Commission would also be members of the Board. The Foundation would be 
operated under the direction of Professor Thomas Buergenthal and would maintain 
close contacts with leaders and researchers in El Salvador, with the group of 
European, United States and Latin American professionals who worked with the 
Commission, and with scientists from around the world. For those documents 
which were not subject to secrecy, duplicate copies and computer terminals for 
accessing the collection would be available in Salvadorian institutions 
requesting them. 

The Foundation would be inaugurated in June 1993, in Washington, with a 
multidisciplinary encounter to discuss the report of the Commission on the 
Truth . 

J. EXPRESSIONS OF GRATITUDE 

The Commission places on record its admiration for and gratitude to the 
Salvadorian people, without exception, for the courage they have shown 
throughout the terrible ordeal of the conflict and for the outstanding spirit 
which they have generously demonstrated in the peace process. It also expresses 
its gratitude to President Cristiani and the members of his Government, and to 
the Commanders and members of the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion 
Nacional (FMLN) , for cooperating with it in the performance of its tasks. 

The Commission further expresses its gratitude to the Secretaries-General 
of the United Nations, Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar and Mr. Boutros 
Boutros-Ghali, and to Assistant Secretary-General Mr. Alvaro de Soto and his 


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staff for their efficient cooperation. It also thanks ONUSAL, in particular, 
its Director, Mr. Iqbal Riza, for their diligence and expeditiousness in 
providing logistical and security support, and legal expert Mr. Pedro Nikken, 
whose knowledge of Central America is extensive. 

We owe a debt of gratitude to the President of Colombia, 

Mr. Cesar Gaviria Trujillo; the President of Mexico, 

Mr. Carlos Salinas de Gortari; the Prime Minister of Spain, Mr. Felipe Gonzalez; 
and the President of Venezuela, Mr. Carlos Andres Perez known as "the four 
friends of the Secretary-General", and their ambassadors to the United Nations 
and El Salvador, for their constant and full support. 

We also express our gratitude to Salvadorian political parties and their 
leaders; Salvadorian and international non-governmental organizations; the 
Catholic Church and its hierarchy and all religious faiths; the Directors and 
staff of the information media; and important public figures in El Salvador and 
outstanding international figures who have followed the conflict closely: 
without the cooperation of all these people it would have been impossible to 
penetrate the maze in which the truth often lay hidden. 

This report would not have been possible without the collaboration of the 
interdisciplinary group of professionals from around the world who, under the 
direction of Ms. Patricia Valdez, for eight months devoted themselves with 
professionalism, objectivity and dedication to the task of seeking, unravelling 
and, on more than a few occasions, unearthing the truth. 

K. THE DOMINANT IDEA 

The members of the Commission are convinced from what they observed during 
six months of close association with Salvadorian society, that there is no place 
among the sorely tried Salvadorian people for bitterness or vengeance. There is 
likewise no intention to cause humiliation; nor does anyone today seek to harm 
the dignity of any human being by any action. Peace is always made by those who 
have fought the war, and all the former combatants have established forums for 
reconciliation in the new society. All are called upon to make a contribution, 
each according to the pain he has suffered and the love he has for his country. 
It falls to President Cristiani - the peace President - and his Government and 
the former insurgents, especially the former Commanders of FMLN, once again to 
play the leading role by setting a new course for El Salvador. 

Salvadorian society - a society of sacrifice and hope - is watching them 
from the vantage point of history. The future of the nation summons them, a 
nation which is moving forward under the influence of one dominant idea: to 

lift itself out of the ruins in order to hold high like a banner the vision of 
its future. The nations of the international community are watching them in 
gladness. A new people is rising from the ashes of a war in which all were 
unjust. Those who perished are watching them from the great beyond. Those who 
hope are watching them from the heights of hope. 


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II. THE MANDATE 

A. THE MANDATE 

The Commission on the Truth owes its existence and authority to the 
El Salvador peace agreements, a set of agreements negotiated over a period of 
more than three years (1989-1992) between the Government of El Salvador and 
FMLN . The negotiating process, which took place under United Nations auspices 
with the special cooperation of Colombia, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela (the 
so-called "friends of the Secretary-General"), culminated in the Peace Agreement 
signed at Chapultepec, Mexico, on 16 January 1992. 1/ 

The decision to set up the Commission on the Truth was taken by the Parties 
in the Mexico Agreements, signed at Mexico City on 27 April 1991. 2 J These 
Agreements define the functions and powers of the Commission, while its 
authority is expanded by article 5 of the Chapultepec Peace Agreement, entitled 
"End to Impunity". 3/ Together, these provisions constitute the Commission's 
"mandate" . 

The mandate defines the Commission's functions as follows: 

"The Commission shall have the task of investigating serious acts of 
violence that have occurred since 1980 and whose impact on society urgently 
demands that the public should know the truth." 

It then states that the Commission shall take the following into account: 

" (a) The exceptional importance that may be attached to the acts to be 
investigated, their characteristics and impact, and the social unrest to 
which they gave rise; and 

(b) The need to create confidence in the positive changes which the 
peace process is promoting and to assist the transition to national 
reconciliation. " 

The specific functions assigned to the Commission as regards impunity are 
defined, in part, in the Chapultepec Agreement, which provides as follows: 

"The Parties recognize the need to clarify and put an end to any 
indication of impunity on the part of officers of the armed forces, 
particularly in cases where respect for human rights is jeopardized. To 
that end, the Parties refer this issue to the Commission on the Truth for 
consideration and resolution." 

In addition to granting the Commission powers with respect to impunity and 
the investigation of serious acts of violence, the peace agreements entrust the 
Commission with making "legal, political or administrative" recommendations. 

Such recommendations may relate to specific cases or may be more general. In 
the latter case, they "may include measures to prevent the repetition of such 
acts, and initiatives to promote national reconciliation". 

The Commission was thus given two specific powers: the power to make 

investigations and the power to make recommendations. The latter power is 


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particularly important since, under the mandate, "the Parties undertake to carry 
out the Commission's recommendations". The Parties thus agree to be bound by 
the Commission's recommendations. 

As regards the Commission' s other task, the mandate entrusted it with 
investigating "serious acts of violence ... whose impact on society urgently 
demands that the public should know the truth". In other words, in deciding 
which acts to focus on, the Commission would have to take into account the 
particular importance of each act, its repercussions and the social unrest to 
which it gave rise. However, the mandate did not list or identify any specific 
cases for investigation; nor did it distinguish between large-scale acts of 
violence and acts involving only a handful of people. Instead, the mandate 
emphasized serious acts of violence and their impact or repercussions. On the 
basis of these criteria, the Commission investigated two types of cases: 

(a) Individual cases or acts which, by their nature, outraged Salvadorian 
society and/or international opinion; 

(b) A series of individual cases with similar characteristics revealing a 
systematic pattern of violence or ill-treatment which, taken together, equally 
outraged Salvadorian society, especially since their aim was to intimidate 
certain sectors of that society. 

The Commission attaches equal importance to uncovering the truth in both 
kinds of cases. Moreover, these two types of cases are not mutually exclusive. 
Many of the so-called individual acts of violence which had the greatest impact 
on public opinion also had characteristics revealing systematic patterns of 
violence . 

In investigating these acts, the Commission took into account three 
additional factors which have a bearing on the fulfilment of its mandate. The 
first was that it must investigate serious or flagrant acts committed by both 
sides in the Salvadorian conflict and not just by one of the Parties. Secondly, 
in referring the issue of the impunity "of officers of the armed forces, 
particularly in cases where respect for human rights is jeopardized" to the 
Commission, the Chapultepec Agreement urged the Commission to pay particular 
attention to this area and to acts of violence committed by officers of the 
armed forces which were never investigated or punished. Thirdly, the Commission 
was given six months in which to perform its task. 

If we consider that the Salvadorian conflict lasted 12 years and resulted 
in a huge number of deaths and other serious acts of violence, it was clearly 
impossible for the Commission to deal with every act that could have been 
included within its sphere of competence. In deciding to investigate one case 
rather than another, it had to weigh such considerations as the representative 
nature of the case, the availability of sufficient evidence, the investigatory 
resources available to the Commission, the time needed to conduct an exhaustive 
investigation and the issue of impunity as defined in the mandate. 


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B. APPLICABLE LAW 

The Commission's mandate entrusts it with investigating serious acts of 
violence , but does not specify the principles of law that must be applied in 
order to define such acts and to determine responsibility for them. 

Nevertheless, the concept of serious acts of violence used in the peace 
agreements obviously does not exist in a normative vacuum and must therefore be 
analysed on the basis of certain relevant principles of law. 

In defining the legal norms applicable to this task, it should be pointed 
out that, during the Salvadorian conflict, both Parties were under an obligation 
to observe a number of rules of international law, including those stipulated in 
international human rights law or in international humanitarian law, or in both. 
Furthermore, throughout the period in question, the State of El Salvador was 
under an obligation to adjust its domestic law to its obligations under 
international law. 


These rules of international law must be considered as providing the basis 
for the criteria applicable to the functions which the peace agreements entrust 
to the Commission. 4/ Throughout the Salvadorian conflict, these two sets of 
rules were only rarely mutually exclusive. 

It is true that, in theory, international human rights law is applicable 
only to Governments, while in some armed conflicts international humanitarian 
law is binding on both sides: in other words, binding on both insurgents and 

Government forces. However, it must be recognized that when insurgents assume 
government powers in territories under their control, they too can be required 
to observe certain human rights obligations that are binding on the State under 
international law. This would make them responsible for breaches of those 
obligations . 


The official position of FMLN was that certain parts of the national 
territory were under its control, and it did in fact exercise that control. 5/ 

1 . International human rights law 


The international human rights law applicable to the present situation 
comprises a number of international instruments adopted within the framework of 
the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) . These 
instruments, which are binding on the State of El Salvador, include, in addition 
to the Charters of the United Nations and OAS, the following human rights 
treaties: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 

American Convention on Human Rights. El Salvador ratified the Covenant on 
30 November 1979 and the American Convention on 23 June 1978. Both instruments 
entered into force for El Salvador before 1980 and were thus in force throughout 
the conflict to which the Commission's mandate refers. 


Clearly, not every violation of a right guaranteed in those instruments can 
be characterized as a "serious act of violence". Those instruments themselves 
recognize that some violations are more serious than others. This position is 
reflected in a provision which appears in both instruments and which 
distinguishes between rights from which no derogation is possible, even in time 
of war or other state of national emergency, and those from which derogations 


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can be made in such circumstances. It is appropriate, therefore, that the 
Commission should classify the seriousness of each "act of violence" on the 
basis of the rights which the two instruments list as not being subject to 
derogation, in particular, rights related directly to the right to life and to 
physical integrity. 

Accordingly, the following rights listed in article 4 of the Covenant as 
not being subject to derogation would come within the Commission's sphere of 
competence: the right to life ("No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his 

life"); the right not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or 
degrading treatment or punishment; and the right not to be held in slavery or 
any form of servitude. Article 27 of the American Convention on Human Rights 
provides that these same rights cannot be suspended even "in time of war, public 
danger, or other emergency that threatens the independence or security of a 
State Party" . 

Under international law, it is illegal for a State, or for persons acting 
on its behalf, to violate any of the above rights for whatever reason. 

Violation of these rights may even constitute an international crime in 
situations where acts are of a consistent type or reflect a systematic practice 
whose purpose is the large-scale violation of these fundamental rights of the 
human person. 

2 . International humanitarian law 

The principles of international humanitarian law applicable to the 
Salvadorian conflict are contained in article 3 common to the four Geneva 
Conventions of 1949 and in Additional Protocol II thereto. El Salvador ratified 
these instruments before 1980. 

Although the armed conflict in El Salvador was not an international 
conflict as defined by the Conventions, it did meet the requirements for the 
application of article 3 common to the four Conventions. That article defines 
some fundamental humanitarian rules applicable to non-international armed 
conflicts. The same is true of Protocol II Additional to the Geneva 
Conventions, relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed 
conflicts. The provisions of common article 3 and of Additional Protocol II are 
legally binding on both the Government and the insurgent forces. 

Without going into those provisions in detail, it is clear that 
violations - by either of the two parties to the conflict - of common 
article 3 6/ and of the fundamental guarantees contained in Additional 
Protocol II, 7/ especially if committed systematically, could be characterized 
as serious acts of violence for the purposes of the interpretation and 
application of the Commission's mandate. Such violations would include 
arbitrary deprivation of life; torture; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; 
taking of hostages; and denial of certain indispensable guarantees of due 
process before serious criminal penalties are imposed and carried out. 


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3 . Conclusions 

With few exceptions, serious acts of violence prohibited by the rules of 
humanitarian law applicable to the Salvadorian conflict are also violations of 
the non-repealable provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and 
Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights, the two human 
rights treaties ratified by the State of El Salvador. The two instruments also 
prohibit derogation from any rights guaranteed in any humanitarian law treaty to 
which the State is a party. 

As a result, neither the Salvadorian State nor persons acting on its behalf 
or in its place can claim that the existence of an armed conflict justified the 
commission of serious acts of violence in contravention of one or other of the 
human rights treaties mentioned above or of the applicable instruments of 
humanitarian law binding on the State. 

C. METHODOLOGY 

In determining the methodology that would govern the conduct of the 
investigations essential to the preparation of this report, the Commission took 
a number of factors into account. 

The text of its mandate was a binding condition and a starting-point for 
the Commission, in that it stated the Parties' intentions in this connection. 

The preamble to the mandate indicates that the Commission was established 
because the Parties recognized "the need to clear up without delay those 
exceptionally important acts of violence whose characteristics and impact . . . 
urgently require that the complete truth be made known . . . " . 

In establishing the procedure that the Commission was to follow in 
performing its functions, paragraph 7 of the mandate provided that the 
Commission would conduct its activities "on a confidential basis". Paragraph 5 
established that "The Commission shall not function in the manner of a judicial 
body". Paragraph 8 (a) stipulated that "The Commission shall be completely free 

to use whatever sources of information it deems useful and reliable", while 
paragraph 8 (b) gave the Commission the power to "Interview, freely and in 

private, any individuals, groups or members of organizations or institutions". 
Lastly, in the fourth preambular paragraph of the mandate, the Parties agreed 
that the task entrusted to the Commission should be fulfilled "through a 
procedure which is both reliable and expeditious and may yield results in the 
short term, without prejudice to the obligations incumbent on the Salvadorian 
courts to solve such cases and impose the appropriate penalties on the 
culprits " . 

In analysing these provisions of the mandate, the Commission thought it 
important that the Parties had emphasized that "the Commission shall not 
function in the manner of a judicial body". In other words, not only did the 
Parties not establish a court or tribunal, but they made it very clear that the 
Commission should not function as if it were a judicial body. They wanted to 
make sure that the Commission was able to act on a confidential basis and 
receive information from any sources, public or private, that it deemed useful 
and reliable. It was given these powers so that it could conduct an 
investigation procedure that was both expeditious and, in its view, reliable in 


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order to "clear up without delay those exceptionally important acts of violence 
whose characteristics and impact . . . urgently require that the complete truth be 
made known . . . " . 

So it is clear that the Parties opted for an investigation procedure that, 
within the short period of time allotted, would be best fitted to establishing 
the truth about acts of violence falling within the Commission's sphere of 
competence, without requiring the Commission to observe the procedures and rules 
that normally govern the activities of any judicial or quasi- judicial body. Any 
judicial function that had to be performed would be reserved expressly for the 
courts of El Salvador. For the Parties, the paramount concern was to find out 
the truth without delay. 

Another important overall consideration which influenced the Commission's 
methodology was the reality of the situation in El Salvador today. Not only was 
this reflected in the Commission's mandate, but it also had a profound impact on 
the Commission's investigation process and modus operandi . It forced the 
Commission to gather its most valuable information in exchange for assurances of 
confidentiality . 

It was not just that the Parties authorized the Commission, in the peace 
agreements, to act on a confidential basis and to receive information in 
private; the reality of the situation in El Salvador forced it to do so for two 
reasons: first, to protect the lives of witnesses and, secondly, to obtain 
information from witnesses who, because of the climate of terror in which they 
continue to live, would not have provided such information if the Commission had 
not guaranteed them absolute confidentiality. 

The situation in El Salvador is such that the population at large continues 
to believe that many military and police officers in active service or in 
retirement. Government officials, judges, members of FMLN and people who at one 
time or another were connected with the death squads are in a position to cause 
serious physical and material injury to any person or institution that shows a 
readiness to testify about acts of violence committed between 1980 and 1991. 

The Commission believes that this suspicion is not unreasonable, given 
El Salvador's recent history and the power still wielded or, in many cases, 
wielded until recently by people whose direct involvement in serious acts of 
violence or in covering up such acts is well known but who have not been 
required to account for their actions or omissions. 

Even though the fears expressed by some potential witnesses may have been 
exaggerated, the fact is that in their minds the danger is real. As a result, 
they were not prepared to testify unless they were guaranteed absolute secrecy. 
It should be pointed out that many witnesses refused to give information to 
other investigatory bodies in the past precisely because they were afraid that 
their identity would be divulged. 

The Commission can itself testify to the extreme fear of reprisals 
frequently expressed, both verbally and through their behaviour, by many of the 
witnesses it interviewed. It is also important to emphasize that the Commission 
was not in a position to offer any significant protection to witnesses apart 
from this guarantee of confidentiality. Unlike the national courts, for 
instance, the Commission did not have the authority to order precautionary 


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measures; neither, of course, did it have police powers. Besides, it is the 
perception of the public at large that the Salvadorian judicial system is unable 
to offer the necessary guarantees. 

The Commission also received reports from some Governments and 
international bodies, on condition that the source was not revealed. This 
information was subjected to the same test of reliability as the other 
information received and was used principally to confirm or verify personal 
testimony and to guide the Commission in its search for other areas of 
investigation . 

From the outset, the Commission was aware that accusations made and 
evidence received in secret run a far greater risk of being considered less 
trustworthy than those which are subjected to the normal judicial tests for 
determining the truth and to other related requirements of due process of law, 
including the right of the accused to confront and examine witnesses brought 
against him. Accordingly, the Commission felt that it had a special obligation 
to take all possible steps to ensure the reliability of the evidence used to 
arrive at a finding. In cases where it had to identify specific individuals as 
having committed, ordered or tolerated specific acts of violence, it applied a 
stricter test of reliability. 

The Commission decided that, in each of the cases described in this report, 
it would specify the degree of certainty on which its ultimate finding was 
based. The different degrees of certainty were as follows: 

1. Overwhelming evidence - conclusive or highly convincing evidence to 
support the Commission's finding; 

2. Substantial evidence - very solid evidence to support the Commission's 
finding; 

3. Sufficient evidence - more evidence to support the Commission's 
finding than to contradict it. 

The Commission decided not to arrive at any specific finding on cases or 
situations, or any aspect thereof, in which there was less than "sufficient" 
evidence to support such a finding. 

In order to guarantee the reliability of the evidence it gathered, the 
Commission insisted on verifying, substantiating and reviewing all statements as 
to facts, checking them against a large number of sources whose veracity had 
already been established. It was decided that no single source or witness would 
be considered sufficiently reliable to establish the truth on any issue of fact 
needed for the Commission to arrive at a finding. It was also decided that 
secondary sources, for instance, reports from national or international 
governmental or private bodies and assertions by people without first-hand 
knowledge of the facts they reported, did not on their own constitute a 
sufficient basis for arriving at findings. However, these secondary sources 
were used, along with circumstantial evidence, to verify findings based on 
primary sources. 


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It could be argued that, since the Commission's investigation methodology 
does not meet the normal requirements of due process, the report should not name 
the people whom the Commission considers to be implicated in specific acts of 
violence. The Commission believes that it had no alternative but to do so. 

In the peace agreements, the Parties made it quite clear that it was 
necessary that the "complete truth be made known", and that was why the 
Commission was established. Now, the whole truth cannot be told without naming 
names. After all, the Commission was not asked to write an academic report on 
El Salvador, it was asked to investigate and describe exceptionally important 
acts of violence and to recommend measures to prevent the repetition of such 
acts. This task cannot be performed in the abstract, suppressing information 
(for instance, the names of persons responsible for such acts) where there is 
reliable testimony available, especially when the persons identified occupy 
senior positions and perform official functions directly related to violations 
or the cover-up of violations. Not to name names would be to reinforce the very 
impunity to which the Parties instructed the Commission to put an end. 

In weighing aspects related to the need to protect the lives of witnesses 
against the interests of people who might be adversely affected in some way by 
the publication of their names in the report, the Commission also took into 
consideration the fact that the report is not a judicial or quasi judicial 
determination as to the rights or obligations of certain individuals under the 
law. As a result, the Commission is not, in theory, subject to the requirements 
of due process which normally apply, in proceedings which produce these 
consequences . 

Furthermore, the Commission' s application of strict criteria to determine 
the degree of reliability of the evidence in situations where people have been 
identified by name, and the fact that it named names only when it was absolutely 
convinced by the evidence, were additional factors which influenced the 
Commission when it came to take a decision on this analysis. As a result, the 
Commission is satisfied that the criteria of impartiality and reliability which 
it applied throughout the process were fully compatible with the functions 
entrusted to it and with the interests it had to balance. 

The considerations which prompted the Commission to receive confidential 
information without revealing the source also forced it to omit references from 
both the body and the footnotes of the reports on individual cases, with the 
exception of references to certain public, official sources. As a result, 
reference is made to official trial proceedings and other similar sources, but 
not to testimony or other information gathered by the Commission. The 
Commission took this approach in order to reduce the likelihood that those 
responsible for the acts of violence described herein, or their defenders, would 
be able to identify the confidential sources of information used by the 
Commission. In some of the reports on individual cases, the Commission also 
omitted details that might reveal the identity of certain witnesses. 


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III. CHRONOLOGY OF THE VIOLENCE 


INTRODUCTION 

The Commission on the Truth had the task of investigating and analysing 
serious acts of violence that had occurred in El Salvador between January 1980 
and July 1991. 

In taking into account "the exceptional importance that may be attached to 
the acts to be investigated, their characteristics and impact, and the social 
unrest to which they gave rise", 8/ the Commission, for methodological reasons, 
divided the years 1980-1991 into four periods, namely: 1980-1983, 1983-1987, 

1987-1989 and 1989-1991. Each of these periods corresponds to political changes 
in the country, developments in the war and the systematic nature or frequency 
of certain practices that violated human rights and international humanitarian 
law . 


Frequency of reports in the Salvadorian press 
concerning acts of violence 

(For more information, see annex 3) 


A Peasant massacres* B Murder of individuals* C Disappearances* 
D Abductions* 


Average percentage of reports. 


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I. 1980-1983: THE INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF VIOLENCE 

The main characteristics of this period were that violence became 
systematic and terror and distrust reigned among the civilian population. The 
fragmentation of any opposition or dissident movement by means of arbitrary 
arrests, murders and selective and indiscriminate disappearances of leaders 
became common practice. Repression in the cities targeted political 
organizations, trade unions and organized sectors of Salvadorian society, as 
exemplified by the persecution of organizations such as the Asociacion Nacional 
de Educadores Salvadorenos (ANDES), 9/ murders of political leaders _1_0/ and 
attacks on human rights bodies. 11 / 

The Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) was formed in 
late 1980 and in January 1981, the first large-scale military offensive left 
hundreds of people dead. Starting in 1980, there was a succession of 
indiscriminate attacks on the non-combatant civilian population and also 
collective summary executions, particularly against the rural population. 12 / 
There were appalling massacres, such as those at the Sumpul river 
(14-15 May 1980), the Lempa river (20-29 October 1981) and El Mozote 
(December 1981) . Organized terrorism, in the form of the so-called "death 
squads", became the most aberrant manifestation of the escalation of violence. 
Civilian and military groups engaged in a systematic murder campaign with total 
impunity, while State institutions turned a blind eye. 13_/ The murder of 
Monsignor Romero exemplified the limitless, devastating power of these groups. 
This period saw the greatest number of deaths and human rights violations. 


1980 


The Government of General Carlos Humberto Romero (July 1977-October 1979) 
was overthrown on 15 October 1979. The Revolutionary Government Junta (JRG) 
composed of Colonel Jaime Abdul Gutierrez and Colonel Adolfo Majano announced 
its main goals: an end to violence and corruption, guarantees for the exercise 

of human rights, adoption of measures to ensure the fair distribution of 
national wealth and a positive approach to external relations. 14 / 

On 18 October 1979, elections were announced for February 1982. Measures 
were enacted restricting landholdings to a maximum of 100 hectares (Decree 
No. 43 of 6 December 1979) . The organization ORDEN _1_5/ was dissolved on 
6 November 1979 and the Salvadorian national security agency (ANSESAL) was 
dismantled. 16 / 

The political struggle between civilians and conservative military sectors 
intensified, against a backdrop of social upheaval and mobilization. Left-wing 
organizations such as the Bloque Popular Revolucionario (BPR) , the Ligas 
Populares 28 de Febrero (LP-28) and the Frente de Accion Popular Unificada 
(FAPU) , among others, held public demonstrations, occupied ministries and 
organized strikes demanding the release of political prisoners. Economic 
measures and land tenure reforms were adopted. The organizations BPR, FAPU, 
LP-28 and the Union Democratica Nacionalista (UDN) came together to form the 
Coordinadora Revolucionaria de Masas (CRM) . YTJ On 22 January, the National 
Guard attacked a massive CRM demonstration, described by Monsignor Romero as 
peaceful, killing somewhere between 22 and 50 people and wounding hundreds more. 


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Anti-Government violence erupted in the form of occupations of radio 
stations, bombings of newspapers ( La Prensa Grafica and El Diario de Hoy ) , 
abductions, executions and attacks on military targets, particularly by the 
Fuerzas Populares de Liberacion (FPL) and the Ejercito Revolucionario del 
Pueblo (ERP) . 

On 3 January 1980, the three civilian members of the Junta resigned, along 
with 10 of the 11 cabinet ministers. _18_/ The Junta was again in crisis. The 
Agrarian Reform Act _1_9/ and the nationalization of banks were announced. On 
9 March, Jose Napoleon Duarte became a member of the Junta when the Christian 
Democratic Party expelled Dada Hizeri, Ruben Zamora and other leaders from its 
ranks. The process of political polarization triggered an unprecedented 
increase in death squad activities. 

On 6 February, United States Ambassador Frank Devine informed the State 
Department that mutilated bodies were appearing on roadsides as they had done in 
the worst days of the Romero regime and that the extreme right was arming itself 
and preparing for a confrontation in which it clearly expected to ally itself 
with the military. 20 / 

On 22 February, PDC leader and Chief State Counsel Mario Zamora was 
murdered at his home, only days after the Frente Amplio Nacional (FAN) , headed 
by former National Guard Major Roberto D'Aubuisson, had accused him publicly of 
being a member of subversive groups (see the case in chap. IV) . 

On 24 March, Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero was shot dead by a sniper as he 
celebrated mass in the Chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia 21 _/ (see 
the case in chap. IV) . This crime further polarized Salvadorian society and 
became a milestone, symbolizing the point at which human rights violations 
reached their peak and presaging the all-out war between the Government and the 
guerrillas that was to come. During the funeral, a bomb went off outside 
San Salvador Cathedral. The panic-stricken crowd, estimated at 50,000 people, 
was machine-gunned, leaving an estimated 27 to 40 people dead and more than 
200 wounded. 22 / 

On 7 May 1980, Major Roberto D'Aubuisson 2_3 / was arrested on a farm, along 
with a group of civilians and soldiers. In the raid, a significant quantity of 
weapons and documents were found implicating the group in the organization and 
financing of death squads allegedly involved in Archbishop Romero's murder. The 
arrests triggered a wave of terrorist threats and institutional pressures which 
culminated in D' Aubuisson' s release. This strengthened the most conservative 
sector in the Government 2_4/ and was a clear example of the passivity and 
inertia of the judiciary during this period. 25 / 

Government measures 2_6/ and illegal repressive measures were taken to 
dismantle the country's legal structure and neutralize the opposition. 27 / 

Between 12 and 15 August, a general strike called by FDR, a coalition of 
centre-left parties, was violently suppressed, leaving 129 people dead. 2_8_/ On 
27 November, Alvarez Cordoba and six FDR leaders were abducted. Their bodies 
were found later, bearing signs of torture (see the case in chap. IV) . A few 
days later, the Brigada Anticomunista General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez 
issued a communique claiming responsibility for the killings. 


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Between October and November 1980, the five armed opposition groups - 
Fuerzas Populares de Liberacion (FPL), Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) , 
Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion (FAL) , Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Nacional 
(FARN) and Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores de Centroamerica (PRTC) - 
formed the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) . 

In late 1980, as a change of Administration was taking place in the United 
States, the violence in El Salvador reached United States citizens. On 
2 December, four churchwomen were arrested, raped and murdered by members of the 
National Guard (see the case in chap. IV) . At the end of the year. 

Colonel Majano was removed from the Junta and Napoleon Duarte became 
President. 29 / 

The Commission on the Truth received direct complaints concerning 
2,597 victims of serious acts of violence occurring in 1980. 30 / 


1981 


Individual extrajudicial executions continued and mass executions in rural 
areas increased. On 3 January, the President of the Salvadorian Institute for 
Agrarian Reform and two United States advisers were murdered in the Sheraton 
Hotel _31/ (see the case in chap. IV) . This incident was part of a campaign of 
murders of cooperative leaders and beneficiaries of the agrarian reform. 

On 10 January, FMLN launched the "final offensive" announced in late 
1980. 3_2/ Attacks were launched on military targets throughout the country, 
leaving hundreds of people dead. Government sources reported that "at least 
500 extremists" had died in the final offensive. Because of FMLN actions, the 
state of siege decreed by the Junta was maintained until October 1981. 

The violence in El Salvador began to attract international attention and to 
have international repercussions. External political forces began to claim that 
the Salvadorian conflict was part of the East-West confrontation. Other forces 
worked for a negotiated settlement of the conflict. 3_3/ Many sectors began to 
envisage the possibility of a negotiated settlement, provided that the necessary 
resources were available. On 14 January, the United States Administration 
restored military aid, which had been suspended after the murder of the United 
States churchwomen. 3_4/ The United States Government also significantly 
increased its military and economic assistance. The increasing flow of 
resources was intended to train, modernize and expand the structure of a number 
of elements of the armed forces. The Rapid Deployment Infantry Battalions 
(BIRI), specialized in anti-guerrilla warfare, also began to be created 
(Atlacatl: March 1981, Atonal: January 1982, Belloso: May 1982, etc.) . 

Counter-insurgency military operations affected the non-combatant civilian 
population, causing a high death toll and the emergence of a new phenomenon - 
displaced persons. 

On 17 March, as they tried to cross the Lempa river to Honduras, a group of 
thousands of peasants was attacked from the air and from land. Between 20 and 
30 people were reported killed and a further 189 reported missing as a result of 
the attack. Something similar happened in October on the banks of the same 


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river, on which occasion 147 peasants were killed, including 44 minors. In 
November, in Cabanas Department, a counter-insurgency operation surrounded and 
kept under attack for 13 days a group of 1,000 people who were trying to escape 
to Honduras. This time, between 50 and 100 people were reported killed. 3_5/ In 
late December, the Atlacatl Battalion carried out one of the worst massacres of 
the war, in various hamlets in and around El Mozote (see the case in chap. IV) . 

According to the Fundacion Salvadorena para el Desarrollo (FUSADES), by 
1981 there were 164,000 displaced persons. The number of displaced persons 
leaving the country in search of refuge also increased, according to the report 
of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) . 36 / 
Furthermore, Christian Legal Aid reported 12,501 deaths in 1981. 37 / 

The Commission on the Truth received direct testimony concerning 
1,633 victims of serious acts of violence occurring in 1981. 


1982 


The 60-member Constituent Assembly 3_8/ adopted a new Constitution and 
elected an interim Government. Although PDC won the most votes (40.3 per cent), 
ARENA (29.3 per cent), in alliance with the Partido de Conciliacion Nacional 
(PCN) (19 per cent) and other minority parties, won control of the Assembly. 
Roberto D'Aubuisson was elected President of the Constituent Assembly and two 
PCN members were elected Vice-Presidents. The Assembly ratified the 1962 
Political Constitution. 3_9/ It also elected Alvaro Magana Provisional President 
of the Republic and Raul Molina Martinez (PDC) , Gabriel Mauricio Gutierrez 
Castro (ARENA) and Pablo Mauricio Alvergue (PCN), Vice-Presidents. 

Decree No. 6 of the National Assembly suspended phase III _40/ of the 
implementation of the agrarian reform, and was itself later amended. The 
Apaneca Pact was signed on 3 August 1982, establishing a Government of National 
Unity, whose objectives were peace, democratization, human rights, economic 
recovery, security and a strengthened international position. An attempt was 
made to form a transitional Government which would establish a democratic 
system. Lack of agreement among the forces that made up the Government and the 
pressures of the armed conflict prevented any substantive changes from being 
made during Magana's Presidency. 

FMLN attacked the Ilopango Air Force Base, destroying six of the Air 
Force's 14 UH-1H helicopters, five Ouragan aircraft and three C-47s. _41_/ The 
guerrillas stepped up their activities against economic targets. Between 
February and April, a total of 439 acts of sabotage were reported _42_/ and the 
number of acts of sabotage involving explosives or arson rose to 782 between 
January and September. _43_/ The United States Embassy estimated the damage to 
the economic infrastructure at US$ 98 million. _44_/ FMLN also carried out 
large-scale operations in the capital city and temporarily occupied urban 
centres in the country's interior. According to some reports, the number of 
rebels ranged between 4,000 and 5,000; other sources put the number at between 
6,000 and 9,000. 45 / 


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Combined land-air military operations by the armed forces sought to regain 
control of populated areas controlled by the rebels. In one of these operations 
(31 January), 150 civilians were reported killed by military forces in Nueva 
Trinidad and Chalatenango . On 10 March, some 5,000 peasants were fired at from 
helicopters and shelled as they fled the combat zone in San Esteban Catarina. 

In August, a military campaign of "pacification" in San Vicente reported 300 to 
400 peasants killed. _46_/ In late November, 5, 000 soldiers took part in a 10-day 
counter-offensive in northern San Salvador. The Ministry of Defence reported at 
the end of the operation that four districts had been recovered, with 
20 soldiers and 232 guerrilla fighters killed. 47 / 

On 31 August, the Comision Nacional de Asistencia a la Poblacion Desplazada 
(CONADES) reported that there were 226,744 internally displaced persons. By 
June of that year, the number of Salvadorian refugees in Latin American 
countries totalled between 175,000 and 295,000. 48 / 

The United States Embassy reported a total of 5,639 people killed, of whom 
2,330 were civilians, 762 were members of the armed forces and 2,547 were 
members of the guerrilla forces. Christian Legal Aid reported that during the 
first eight months of 1982, there were a total of 3,059 political murders, 
"nearly all of them the result of action by Government agents against civilians 
not involved in military combat". _49_/ The same source reported that the total 
number of civilian deaths in 1982 was 5,962. 50 / 

The death squads 5JL/ continued to operate with impunity in 1982. On 
10 March, the Alianza Anticomunista de El Salvador published a list of 34 people 
who had been condemned to death for "discrediting the armed forces". Most of 
them were journalists. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, referring 
to the discovery of clandestine graves of death squad victims, reported that on 
24 May the bodies of more than 150 people had been dumped at Puerta del Diablo, 
Panchimalco. _52/ On 27 May, the bodies of six members of the Christian 
Democratic Party were found at El Playon, another clandestine mass grave used by 
the death squads. 5_3/ President Duarte publicly denounced the extreme right 
wing, holding it responsible for the murder of hundreds of PDC members and 
mayors. Four Dutch journalists were killed on 17 March 1982 (see the case in 
chap . IV) . 

The Commission on the Truth received direct testimony concerning 

I, 145 victims of serious acts of violence occurring in 1982. 

II. 1983-1987: VIOLATIONS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE ARMED CONFLICT 

Violations of life, physical integrity and security continued to occur in 
urban centres. The number of violations fell but was accompanied by greater 
selectivity. In 1982, 5,962 people died at the hands of government forces; by 
1985 the number had fallen to 1,655. 54 / 

There began to be a marked decrease in the activities of the death squads. 
During a visit to El Salvador, in December 1983, Vice-President Bush publicly 
condemned the death squads. He demanded the removal of certain armed forces and 
security officers who were associated with human rights violations. The visit 
demonstrated that United States diplomatic pressure could bring about a 
reduction in the number of violations. 


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FMLN strengthened its structure and demonstrated strength in the military 
sphere. It carried out large-scale operations and exercised territorial 
control, albeit temporarily, in various parts of the country. In 1985, it began 
to use mines indiscriminately, causing many deaths among the civilian 
population. An intensive campaign for the destruction of economic targets 
unfolded, resulting in major property damage. Hostage-taking and murder, 
particularly of town mayors and government officials in areas of, or close to, 
the conflict became commonplace. The guerrillas sought thus to demonstrate, 
both within and outside the country, the existence of a "duality of power" in 
El Salvador. 

During this phase, the military development of the war caused the armed 
forces to view the civilian population in the areas of conflict as "legitimate 
targets for attack". Indiscriminate aerial bombings, massive artillery attacks 
and infantry advances were carried out, all of which resulted in massacres and 
the destruction of communities in an effort to deprive the guerrillas of all 
means of survival. Because of the systematic use of this tactic by the armed 
forces, in violation of human rights, this phase was characterized by vast 
numbers of displaced persons and refugees. By 1984, there were reported to be 
500,000 displaced persons within the country 5_5/ and 245,500 Salvadorian 
refugees abroad, bringing the total number of displaced persons to approximately 
one and a half million. Following much international criticism, the armed 
forces cut back on the use of air attacks against the civilian population. 


1983 


On 4 May, the Constituent Assembly passed an Amnesty Law for civilians 
involved in political offences. 5_6/ In November, it was agreed that the 
presidential elections, originally scheduled for December 1983, would be held on 
25 March 1984. On 15 December, following 20 months of debate, the new 
Constitution was approved. 57 / 

Talks began between the Government and FDR-FMLN, although no positive 
results were achieved. Delegations from both sides met on 29 and 30 August in 
San Jose, Costa Rica, and on 29 September in Bogota, under the auspices of the 
Presidents of the Contadora Group. 5_8_/ On 7 October, President Magana announced 
that the next round of talks had been cancelled, citing the refusal by FMLN to 
participate in elections. That same day, Victor Manuel Quintanilla, the senior 
FDR representative residing in El Salvador, was found dead, together with three 
other persons. The Brigada Anticomunista Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez claimed 
responsibility. 59 / 

FMLN continued its campaign of economic sabotage and its escalation of 
large-scale military actions. Between 15 and 18 January, the guerrillas 
launched an offensive and temporarily occupied towns in Morazan. On 29 January, 
in a similar action, FMLN occupied Berlin, a city of 35,000 inhabitants, for a 
period of three days, destroying the Police and the National Guard headquarters. 
For its part, the Government responded with a large-scale counter-offensive. 

Some days later. Monsignor Rivera y Damas accused the armed forces of being 
responsible for the high number of civilians killed - estimated at between 
50 and 170 - and the property damage caused. On 22 February, uniformed soldiers 
kidnapped and summarily executed a group of peasants from a cooperative at 


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Las Hojas, Sonsonate; the number of dead was estimated at 70 (see this case in 
chap. IV) . On 16 March, Marianela Garcia Villas, President of the Human Rights 
Commission of El Salvador (non-governmental) was executed by security 
forces. 60 / 

Between January and June, there were 37 large-scale military operations by 
government forces. On 25-26 September, FMLN attacked army positions in 
Tenancingo, and A-37 aircraft responded with aerial bombings; some 100 civilians 
were killed in this operation. 6 il/ In November, troops from Atlacatl Battalion 
invaded an area close to Lake Suchitlan under rebel control, and 118 people were 
reported killed as a result of the action. _62/ Towards the end of the year, 

FMLN embarked on its biggest military action against El Paraiso military base in 
Chalatenango; it is estimated that more than 100 soldiers were killed in the 
attack. On 25 May, the Clara Elizabeth Ramirez urban unit of FPL executed 
Marine Colonel Albert Schaufelberger , the second-ranking officer among the 
55 United States military advisers in El Salvador. 63 / 

On 6 April, Melida Amaya Montes (Commander Ana Maria), the second in 
command of FPL, was murdered in Managua. A few days later, on learning that a 
close collaborator of his had committed the crime, Salvador Cayetano Carpio, 
founder and leader of the majority faction of FMLN, committed suicide. 

In 1983, the death squads continued operating; a high proportion of those 
murdered were leaders of the political opposition, trade union leaders, 
educators and church officials. According to a State Department briefing, death 
squad activities picked up again in May, and they became very active in October 
and November, primarily as a result of the continuing, though limited, dialogue 
between the Peace Commission and the left. 64 / 

On 1 November, the Brigada Anticomunista Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez 
issued a death threat to Bishops Rivera y Damas and Rosas Chavez, warning them 
"to desist immediately from their disruptive sermons". In his farewell message. 
Ambassador Hinton referred to this event saying that he had never been able to 
understand the private sector' s silence with regard to the activities of the 
death squads . 65 / 

On 4 November, the new Ambassador, Thomas Pickering, referred to the 
pressure being put on the Government of El Salvador to take action against 
the leaders of the death squads, mentioning, inter alia . Hector Regalado, Chief 
of Security of the Constituent Assembly; Major Jose Ricardo Pozo, Chief of 
Intelligence of the Treasury Police; Lieutenant Colonel 

Aristides Alfonso Marquez, Chief of Intelligence of the National Police and 
Colonels Denis Moran, Elmer Araujo Gonzalez and Miguel Alfredo Vasconcelos. 66 / 

The most important event in this respect was the visit by the 
Vice-President of the United States, George Bush, to San Salvador on 9 December. 
Bush took the opportunity to state publicly that the death squads must disappear 
because they constituted a threat to the political stability of the Government. 
Later on he handed the Government a list of civilian and military personnel 
suspected of belonging to those clandestine organizations. 6j7/ From that time 
on there was a significant decrease in the activities of the squads and several 
government bodies announced that they planned to conduct investigations into the 
matter. 68/ 


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On 25 December, Monsignor Gregorio Rosas Chavez reported that 
6,096 Salvadorians had died in 1983 as a result of political violence. The 
number of people killed by the army and the death squads was 4,700; the number 
of army and security forces personnel killed was 1,300. 69 / 

In the interior of the country, the number of displaced persons climbed to 
400,000; this, added to the approximately 500,000 Salvadorians which UNHCR 
estimated to be in the United States and the 200,000 in Mexico and Central 
America, represented 20 per cent of the country's total population. 70 / 

In his annual report, the Special Representative of the United Nations 
Commission on Human Rights, Jose Antonio Pastor Ridruejo, said: 

"... the number of civilians murdered for political reasons in 
El Salvador continues to be very high. This is, unfortunately, the feature 
of the human rights situation ... which causes the greatest concern." 71 / 

The Commission on the Truth received direct testimony concerning 
513 victims of serious acts of violence occurring in 1983. 


1984 

PDC placed first in the March 1984 elections, with 43.41 per cent of the 
vote, followed by ARENA, with 29.76 per cent, and PCN, with 20 per cent. Since 
no party had obtained an absolute majority, a second round of balloting was held 
on 6 May between the two parties that placed highest. Jose Napoleon Duarte won 
53.6 per cent and the ARENA candidate, Roberto D'Aubuisson, won 46.4 per cent. 
Duarte took office on 1 June and became the first civilian to be elected 
President in 50 years. 

The trial of the members of the National Guard accused of murdering the 
American churchwomen in December 1980 was held during the interval between the 
elections and the time Duarte took office. The Government and institutions of 
the United States brought strong pressure to bear on the proceedings, for the 
United States Congress was considering emergency assistance to El Salvador. On 
23 May, after finding them guilty. Judge Bernardo Rauda Murcia sentenced the 
five members of the National Guard to 30 years in prison. 72 / 

In October, President Duarte invited FMLN to talks. The meeting took place 
in La Palma, Chalatenango, on 15 October and was followed by a further meeting 
on 30 November in Ayagualo, La Libertad. Neither meeting was a success because 
of the positions taken regarding the conditions of a possible incorporation of 
FMLN into political life. 73 / 

As the war proceeded there was a decrease in the number of political 
murders but, at the same time, acts of war increased, as manifested by countless 
confrontations, acts of economic sabotage 7_4/ and massive counter-insurgency 
operations by the military in conflict zones. 75 / 

On 23 October, the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) tricked 
Colonel Domingo Monterosa, Commander of the Third Infantry Brigade, into 
locating and seizing what was thought to be the Radio Venceremos transmission 


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centre. An explosive device which had been planted in the transmitter exploded 
while the unit was being transported by helicopter. The Colonel and those 
accompanying him were killed. 

Despite indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on the civilian 
population, the number of air attacks on the population dropped. At the same 
time, there was a marked decrease in the activities of death squads during the 
first months of the year. 7_6/ In April, however. Legal Protection reported that 
murders by death squads were on the increase again, following a two-month 
lull. 77 / 

In a document issued in September, Legal Aid reported that, during the 
first eight months of 1984, the number of civilian deaths attributed to the 
army, security forces and death squads came to 1,965. In his annual report, the 
Special Representative of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights stated 
that "... the persistence of civilian deaths in or as a result of combat weakens 
the favourable impression created by a decline in the number of political 
murders in non-combat situations." 78 / 

The Commission on the Truth received direct testimony concerning 
290 victims of serious acts of violence occurring in 1984. 


1985 


Elections for the Legislative Assembly and the municipalities were held on 
31 March and the Christian Democrats won. The loss of relative political 
control by ARENA led to a process of internal realignments which culminated, on 
29 September, in the election of Alfredo Cristiani as President of the National 
Executive Committee of that party. 

In the course of the year, the dialogue process remained at a standstill, 
because of the non-acceptance of the proposal that talks should continue without 
publicity so that the peacemaking effort might progress. 

There was a marked stepping up of violence in military confrontations and 
operations in the areas where guerrillas were active. At the same time, FMLN 
had been carrying out a series of abductions and summary executions. 7_9/ The 
action having the greatest consequences was the attack carried out on 19 June, 
on a restaurant in the Zona Rosa in San Salvador, by the Partido Revolucionario 
de Trabajadores Centroamericanos (PRTC) . Four United States Marines from the 
United States Embassy were killed in the attack, together with nine civilians 
(see this case in chap. IV) . 

During 1985, FMLN carried out a series of abductions of mayors and 
municipal officials and, by September, 20 mayors had been abducted. The army 
captured Nidia Diaz, Commander of PRTC, in combat and Commander 
Miguel Castellanos deserted (see the case in chap. IV) . 

FMLN abducted President Duarte's daughter. 8_0/ Following several weeks of 
negotiation with the mediation of the church and foreign Governments, FMLN 
exchanged Ines Guadalupe Duarte and 22 mayors for Nidia Diaz and a group of 
21 leaders; 101 war-wounded FMLN combatants left the country. 


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FMLN began to make widespread tactical use of mines in areas under its 
influence. As a result of this practice, a great many civilians were killed or 
maimed. Legal Protection put the number of persons killed by mines in 1985 at 
31 and the Human Rights Commission of El Salvador (governmental) reported 46 
people killed and 100 injured as a result of contact mines. 81 / 

No large-scale collective executions were carried out during the numerous 
military counter-insurgency operations. However, there were intensive aerial 
bombings and mass displacement of the peasant population in rural areas. 82 / 
Christian Legal Aid put the number of civilian non-combatant deaths attributable 
to government forces at 1, 655. 8_3/ Legal Protection put the number of dead 
at 371. 84 / 

Death squad activity continued in 1985. Legal Protection cited 136 murders 
by death squads, as against 39 during the latter half of 1984. At the same time 
the Ejercito Secreto Anticomunista (ESA) issued death threats to 11 members of 
the University of El Salvador and 9 of those threatened went into exile. Major 
D'Aubuisson, commenting on the squads, pointed out that they "had been operating 
in El Salvador since 1969, when the terrorist groups of the Communist Party were 
formed" . 85 / 

Different sources cited different figures for the number of persons injured 
and killed as a result of the fighting. The actual number was probably around 
2 , 000 . 86 / 

The Commission on the Truth received testimony concerning 141 victims of 
acts of serious violence occurring in 1985. 


1986 


The process of political dialogue on resolving the conflict remained 
deadlocked because of the radicalization of the parties. The war had a negative 
impact on production, and the process of recovery was slow. President Duarte 
adopted a programme of stabilization and reactivation of the economy; at the 
same time protests increased and the crisis deepened. 

The Union Nacional de los Trabajadores Salvadorenos (UNTS) and the Union 
Nacional Obrero-Campesina (UNOC) began to act, organizing protests and popular 
demonstrations. They put forward economic demands and called for a dialogue 
between the Government and FMLN-FDR. UNTS and the Federacion de Estudiantes 
Universitarios (FEUS), as well as other organizations, held three major protest 
demonstrations. In January, so-called "Operation Phoenix" began with the 
objective of regaining the Guazapa area from FMLN control. This operation 
continued throughout the year. 

Vast numbers of people were displaced from their places of origin when they 
fled the counter-insurgency operations. Those affected established the 
Coordinadora Nacional de la Repoblacion (CNR) , which sought to regain the right 
of the civilian population to live in the areas from which they had come. These 
resettlement movements had the backing of the Church. 


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President Napoleon Duarte proposed a new peace plan which FMLN rejected 
because the Salvadorian guerrilla movement refused to be compared to the 
Nicaraguan rebels. 8_7_/ Throughout the year. President Duarte pressed for the 
convening of talks and the international community did likewise, in an effort to 
bring peace to the region. In June, after a second attempt to sign the Central 
American peace agreement failed, 13 Latin American nations made one final 
attempt to save the Contadora peace process. 8_8_/ In September, President Duarte 
again proposed talks with FMLN-FDR in Sesori, San Miguel, but the guerrillas did 
not attend. 

The violence continued. The counter-insurgency operations and repressive 
measures of the State security forces produced casualties as did abductions, 
summary executions, attacks on mayors' offices and the laying of mines by FMLN. 
The activity of the death squads continued and the Ejercito Salvadoreno de 
Salvacion was born. In October, an earthquake in San Salvador caused hundreds 
of casualties and considerable property damage. A state of emergency was 
declared . 

The Commission on the Truth received testimony concerning a total of 
155 victims of serious acts of violence occurring in 1986. 

III. 1987-1989: THE MILITARY CONFLICT AS AN OBSTACLE TO PEACE 

The Esquipulas II Agreement 8_9/ signed by President Duarte provided a 
political opportunity for leaders of FDR to come back at the end of 1987. They 
participated as a coalition in the 1989 presidential elections. 

Although progress was made in what the international community termed "the 
humanization of the conflict", 9_0_/ there was a resurgence of violence, with a 
definite increase in attacks on the labour movement, human rights groups and 
social organizations. FMLN carried out a campaign of abductions, summary 
executions and murders against civilians affiliated with or sympathetic to the 
Government and the armed forces. The dialogue among the parties came to a 
standstill and it became clear that human rights violations were being fostered 
by institutional shortcomings, complicity or negligence and that they were the 
main obstacles to the peace process. 


1987 


Protests against tax measures and electoral reforms became more widespread, 
as did workers' demonstrations and violence against leaders of the cooperative 
movement. 9_1/ In August 1987, the five Central American Presidents meeting in 
Guatemala signed the Esquipulas II Agreement, which called for the establishment 
of national reconciliation commissions in each country, an International 
Verification Commission and amnesty legislation. The Papal Nuncio, for his 
part, offered to host meetings between the Government and FMLN-FDR, with 
Archbishop Rivera y Damas acting as moderator. The parties publicly endorsed 
the Esquipulas II Agreement and announced the establishment of commissions to 
deal with the cease-fire and other areas covered by the Agreement. 


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The Legislative Assembly adopted Legislative Decree No. 805, entitled 
"Amnesty Act aimed at achieving National Reconciliation". _92_/ The Special 
Representative for El Salvador of the United Nations Commission on Human 
Rights _9_3/ and such human rights organizations as Americas Watch criticized the 
scope of the amnesty. _9_4/ In fact, Christian Legal Aid went so far as to bring 
an action challenging the constitutionality of the article which extended the 
benefit of amnesty to all kinds of offences. 95 / 

Moreover, the coordinator of the Salvadorian Human Rights Commission 
(non-governmental), Herbert Anaya Sanabria, was murdered. The incident caused 
great outrage in the country. _9_6/ The United Nations Special Representative, 
Jose Antonio Pastor Ridruejo, reported more humanitarian patterns of conduct in 
the armed forces compared with the previous year. He also noted that he had not 
received any reports of mass murders attributed to the armed forces or of the 
use of torture. _9_7/ The Special Representative concluded by assigning 
responsibility to the guerrillas for most of the civilian deaths or injuries 
caused by the explosion of contact mines. He also referred to the forcible 
recruitment of minors by the guerrilla forces. 9_8_/ Overall, however, there was 
a decline in the number of victims compared with 1986. 

General Adolfo Blandon, Chief of the Armed Forces Joint Staff, presented 
his annual balance sheet, which stated that 75 per cent of the armed forces, 
estimated at over 50, 000 men, had taken part in a total of 132 military 
operations. Government forces had suffered 3,285 casualties: 470 dead and 

2,815 wounded, 90 per cent of whom had returned to active duty. Rebel 
casualties totalled 2,586: 1,004 dead, 670 wounded, 847 taken prisoner and 

65 deserters. 99 / 

The Commission on the Truth received testimony concerning a total of 
136 victims of serious acts of violence occurring in 1987. 


1988 


The elections for the National Assembly and municipal councils resulted in 
a majority for ARENA. FMLN attempted to boycott the elections with transport 
stoppages, kidnappings and murders, and by car-bombings. The Supreme Court, in 
application of the Amnesty Act, exonerated the officers and alleged perpetrators 
of the Las Hojas massacre, as well as those implicated in the murder of the 
American agrarian reform advisers and the Director of ISTA. 100 / 

The army reverted to the practice of mass executions, the most serious 
having occurred in the district of San Sebastian, San Vicente, where 10 peasants 
were killed (see reference to the case in chap. IV) . Furthermore, the number of 
those killed by the death squads was three times higher than in 1987, averaging 
eight victims a month. 101 / 

FMLN began to target as military objectives municipal officials and 
suspected army informers. Thus, the guerrillas killed eight mayors (see 
reference to the case in chap. IV) and threatened to execute a similar number of 
informers. 102 / More than 150 people are estimated to have been killed by mines 
in 1988. 


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The Commission on the Truth received testimony concerning 138 victims of 
serious acts of violence occurring in 1988. 

IV. 1989-1991: FROM THE "FINAL OFFENSIVE" TO THE SIGNING OF THE PEACE 

AGREEMENTS 

At 8 p.m. on Saturday, 11 November 1989, FMLN launched the biggest 
offensive of the war just a few days after the bombing of FENASTRAS 
headquarters. The impact of the offensive on the capital and other cities led 
the Government to decree a state of emergency. Beginning on 13 November, a 
6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew went into effect. 103 / The fighting that raged up to 
12 December cost the lives of over 2,000 from both sides and caused material 
damage amounting to approximately 6 billion colones. 104 / 

The 1989 offensive was one of the most violent episodes of the war. The 
guerrilla forces took cover in densely populated areas during the skirmishes and 
urban areas were the targets of indiscriminate aerial bombardment. The critical 
situation in the country bred such violations as the arrest, torture, murder and 
disappearance of hundreds of non-combatant civilians. It was against this 
backdrop that the Jesuit priests and two women were murdered. 

The parties realized that a decisive military victory was not within their 
grasp and resumed in greater earnest the negotiating process which led to the 
signing of the peace agreements. 

Security Council resolution 637 (27 July 1989) endorsed the use of the good 

offices of the United Nations Secretary-General. The United Nations became a 
direct participant, mediating between the parties, until the ultimate signing of 
the agreements. The United Nations Secretary-General and his representatives 
intervened at crucial moments to keep one or the other of the parties from 
leaving the negotiating table. 

The Geneva Agreement (April 1990), witnessed by the Secretary-General, 
marked the beginning of an irreversible embracing process drawing up an agenda 
and timetable (Caracas Agenda, 21 May 1990); human rights (San Jose Agreement, 

26 July 1990); reforms in the army and the judicial and electoral systems and 
the establishment of the Commission on the Truth (Mexico Agreements, 

27 April 1991), and finally the Chapultepec Agreement, the starting-point for 
the cessation of hostilities, disarmament and the implementation of the agreed 
institutional reforms. 


1989 


Two contradictory trends characterized Salvadorian society in 1989. On the 
one hand, acts of violence became more common, as did complaints of human rights 
violations, while on the other, talks between representatives of the Government 
of El Salvador and members of the FMLN leadership went forward with a view to 
achieving a negotiated and political settlement of the conflict. 105 / 

In the presidential elections, Alfredo Cristiani, 106 / the ARENA candidate, 
was elected while FMLN called for a boycott of the elections and a transport 
stoppage during election week. A number of incidents occurred in university 


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centres. 107 / Systematic intimidation and threats against pastoral workers of 
various churches and social workers of different church institutions 
continued. 108 / 

FMLN continued its policy of " ajusticiamientos " (summary executions) and 
threats against mayors, forcing them to leave office; one third of the territory 
of El Salvador was affected. 109 / In addition, the number of politically 
motivated murders increased, most of them attributed to the rebels. The cases 
which caused the most outrage were the murder of former guerrilla commander 
Miguel Castellanos (17 February) (see chap. IV); the execution of 
Mr. Francisco Peccorini Letona; the murder of the Attorney General of the 
Republic, Roberto Garcia Alvarado; the murder of Jose Antonio Rodriguez Porth, 
who only days before had assumed the post of the President's Chief of Staff, 
together with his chauffeur and another person with him. Mr. Rodriguez Porth, 
who was 74 years of age, was wounded by several gun shots in front of his house 
and died a few days later in the hospital. In addition there was the murder of 
conservative ideologue Edgard Chacon; the execution of 

Gabriel Eugenio Payes Interiano 110 / and the death of prominent politician 
Francisco Jose Guerrero, former President of the Supreme Court, on 24 November 
in an operation which the Government claimed was carried out by the urban 
commandos of FMLN (see chap. IV) . 

Progress was made in the dialogue between FMLN and the Salvadorian 
Government. 111 / The talks continued in Mexico City from 13 to 15 September, in 
San Jose, Costa Rica, beginning on 16 October and in Caracas a month later. 
Observers from the Catholic Church of El Salvador, the United Nations and the 
Organization of American States were present. 

Following the bombing of the offices of the Federacion Nacional Sindical de 
Trabajadores Salvadoenes (FENASTRAS) 112 / (see chap. IV), FMLN suspended talks 
with the Government. 

On 16 November 1989 army units murdered the Jesuit priests of the Central 
American University (UCA) : Ignacio Ellacuria, Rector of the University, 

Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Armando Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno and 
Joaquin Lopez, together with housekeeper Elba Ramos and her 15-year-old 
daughter, Celina Ramos (see chap. IV) . 

Colonel Rene Emilio Ponce, Chief of the Armed Forces Joint Staff, reported 
that the body count was 446 soldiers dead and 1,228 wounded, and 
1,902 guerrillas killed and 1,109 wounded. 113 / 

The Commission on the Truth received direct testimony concerning 
292 victims of serious acts of violence occurring in 1989. 


1990 


In 1990, negotiations proceeded and made real progress, while at the same 
time the war continued. Hector Oqueli Colindres (see chap. IV.), leader of the 
Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario (MNR) 114 / was abducted and killed in 
Guatemala. Former President Jose Napoleon Duarte died and FMLN marked the 
occasion by proclaiming a unilateral cease-fire on the 24th and 25th. 


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According to the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human 
Rights 1990-1991, 119 people, 53 of whom were executed by death squads and 42 by 
the army, died as a result of political murders attributable to military or 
paramilitary groups. FMLN executed 21 persons, 14 of those executions being 
considered political murders. 115 / 

There were fewer civilian deaths than in 1989. The numbers dropped sharply 
after the signing of the San Jose Agreement on Human Rights on 26 July 1990. 

The army's military operations accounted for 852 victims, but it is not known 
how many were FMLN combatants and how many were civilians. 116 / 

In his report on the human rights situation for 1990, the Special 
Representative of the United Nations shared the concern of the Commission on 
Human Rights about the alarming frequency with which members of civil defence 
units had been involved in serious acts of murder, robbery, assault, rape and 
abuse of authority, keeping the population in a permanent state of fear and 
insecurity. 117 / 

The delegations of the Government and the Frente Farabundo Marti para la 
Liberacion Nacional met in Geneva and agreed to resume talks. On 20 May 1990, 
the parties signed an agreement in Caracas which contained the agenda for the 
negotiations aimed at ending the conflict and established a definite 
timetable. 118 / The parties continued to meet on 19 June in Oaxtepec, Mexico, 
to discuss demilitarization and military impunity. The round of talks concluded 
without producing any agreement. As part of the process, what was regarded as 
the first substantive agreement, dealing with respect for human rights, was 
signed on 26 July, which has come to be known as the San Jose Agreement. Both 
parties undertook to respect the most fundamental rights of the human person and 
to institute a procedure for international verification by a United Nations 
mission . 

In August, there was another round of talks to discuss the armed forces 
that ended once again without agreement. The deadlock in the talks led the 
United Nations Secretary-General to announce on 31 October that henceforth the 
negotiations would be held in secret. 

Towards the middle of November, FMLN stepped up its military operations in 
various areas as a means of exerting military pressure to get the stalled 
negotiating process moving again. The international community responded with 
appeals to FMLN to desist from those operations. 119 / 

The Commission on the Truth received direct testimony concerning 107 
victims of serious acts of violence occurring in 1990. 


1991 


The negotiating process between the Government of El Salvador and FMLN went 
forward during 1991. At the same time, the parties were faulted for serious 
acts of violence. On 2 January, in San Miguel, FMLN forces shot down a 
helicopter manned by three American advisers and executed the two survivors (see 
chap. IV) . On 21 January, persons in uniform in El Zapote executed 15 members 
of a family. 120 / On 28 February, Mr. Guillermo Manuel Ungo died after a long 


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illness. The same day, FMLN announced that it would not, as it had in the past, 
boycott the March elections. On 10 March, 53 per cent of registered voters took 
part in the general legislative and municipal elections held in 
El Salvador. 121 / 

The process of dialogue advanced with two rounds of negotiations: one in 

Mexico from 3 to 6 January and the other in San Jose from 19 to 21 February, 
yielding no concrete results. Meanwhile, the level of violence of the war 
intensified throughout the country. 122 / 

On 4 April, Mexico City played host to the representatives of the 
Government and FMLN for the eighth round of negotiations, which went on until 
27 April. Significant agreements were reached involving constitutional reforms 
affecting such aspects as the armed forces and the judicial and electoral 
systems, which were adopted by the Legislative Assembly on 29 April. It was in 
these Agreements that the parties decided to establish the Commission on the 
Truth. 123/ 


On 26 July, with the prior and full support of the United Nations Security 
Council resolution 693 (1991) and of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, 
the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL) was launched and its 
Human Rights Division immediately became operational. The United Nations 
Secretary-General invited the parties to meet with him in New York. On 
25 September they concluded the agreement known as the New York Act, which 
established the National Commission for the Consolidation of Peace (COPAZ) . A 
process of purification and reduction of the armed forces was set in motion, the 
parties undertook to redefine the doctrine for the armed forces and confirmed 
the applicability of the Mexico Agreements of 27 April 1991. Furthermore, 
several economic and social agreements were concluded and an agenda was drawn up 
for negotiations on all outstanding issues. 

The signing of the El Salvador Peace Agreement at Chapultepec, Mexico, on 
16 January 1992, marked the culmination of the negotiating process and the 
beginning of the implementation phase of the agreements. It was also 
specifically agreed at Chapultepec to link the work of the Commission on the 
Truth with the clarification and ending of impunity. 124 / 

For the first six months of 1991, the Commission on the Truth received 
testimony concerning 28 victims of serious acts of violence. 

The signing of the Peace Agreement in Chapultepec put an end to 12 years of 
armed conflict in El Salvador and the events mentioned in this brief chronology 
are only part of the tragic events of El Salvador's recent history. The 
Chapultepec Peace Agreement should also be the beginning of a new period that 
augurs a promising future for this Central American nation through national 
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IV. CASES AND PATTERNS OF VIOLENCE 125 / 

A. GENERAL OVERVIEW OF CASES AND PATTERNS OF VIOLENCE 

The Commission on the Truth registered more than 22,000 complaints of 
serious acts of violence that occurred in El Salvador between January 1980 and 
July 1991. 126 / Over 7,000 were received directly at the Commission's offices 
in various locations. The remainder were received through governmental and 
non-governmental institutions. 127 / 

Over 60 per cent of all complaints concerned extrajudicial executions, over 
25 per cent concerned enforced disappearances, and over 20 per cent included 
complaints of torture. 

Those giving testimony attributed almost 85 per cent of cases to agents of 
the State, paramilitary groups allied to them, and the death squads. 

Armed forces personnel were accused in almost 60 per cent of complaints, 
members of the security forces in approximately 25 per cent, members of military 
escorts and civil defence units in approximately 20 per cent, and members of the 
death squads in more than 10 per cent of cases. The complaints registered 
accused FMLN in approximately 5 per cent of cases. 

Despite their large number, these complaints do not cover every act of 
violence. The Commission was able to receive only a significant sample in its 
three months of gathering testimony. 

This also does not mean that each act occurred as described in the 
testimony. The Commission investigated certain specific cases in particular 
circumstances, as well as overall patterns of violence. Some 30 of the cases 
dealt with in the report are illustrative of patterns of violence, in other 
words, involve systematic practices attested to by thousands of complainants. 

Both the specific cases and the patterns of violence show that, during the 
1980s, the country experienced an unusually high level of political violence. 

All Salvadorians without exception, albeit to differing degrees, suffered from 
this violence. 

The introduction to the report and the section on methodology contain an 
explanation of this phenomenon. 

Patterns of violence by agents of the State and their collaborators 

All the complaints indicate that this violence originated in a political 
mind-set that viewed political opponents as subversives and enemies. Anyone who 
expressed views that differed from the Government line ran the risk of being 
eliminated as if they were armed enemies on the field of battle. This situation 
is epitomized by the extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and 
murders of political opponents described in this chapter. 

Any organization in a position to promote opposing ideas that questioned 
official policy was automatically labelled as working for the guerrillas. To 
belong to such an organization meant being branded a subversive. 


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Counter-insurgency policy found its most extreme expression in a general 
practice of "cutting the guerrillas' lifeline". The inhabitants of areas where 
the guerrillas were active were automatically suspected of belonging to the 
guerrilla movement or collaborating with it and thus ran the risk of being 
eliminated. El Mozote is a deplorable example of this practice, which persisted 
for some years. 

In the early years of the decade, the violence in rural areas was 
indiscriminate in the extreme. 


Roughly 50 per cent of all the complaints analysed concern incidents which 
took place during the first two years, 1980 and 1981; more than 20 per cent took 
place in the following two years, 1982 and 1983. In other words, over 
75 per cent of the serious acts of violence reported to the Commission on the 
Truth took place during first four years of the decade. 


The violence was less indiscriminate in urban areas, and also in rural 
areas after 1983 (95 per cent of complaints concerned incidents in rural areas 
and 5 per cent concerned incidents in more urban areas) . 

Patterns of FMLN violence 

The Commission registered more than 800 complaints of serious acts of 
violence attributed to FMLN. This violence occurred mainly in conflict zones, 
over which FMLN at times maintained firm military control. 


Nearly half the complaints against FMLN concern deaths, mostly 
extrajudicial executions. The rest concern enforced disappearances and forcible 
recruitment . 


The patterns show that this violence began with the armed conflict. It was 
considered legitimate to physically eliminate people who were labelled military 
targets, traitors or "orejas" (informers), and even political opponents. The 
murders of mayors, right-wing intellectuals, public officials and judges are 
examples of this mentality. 

Members of a given guerrilla organization would investigate the activities 
of the person who might be designated a military target, a spy or a traitor; 
they would then make an evaluation and take a collective decision to execute 
that person; special groups or commandoes would plan the action and the 
execution would then be carried out. After the extrajudicial execution, the 
corresponding organization would publicly claim responsibility for propaganda 
purposes. FMLN called such executions "a justiciamientos" . 

These executions were carried out without due process. The case of 
Romero Garcia, alias Miguel Castellanos, in 1989 is typical of extrajudicial 
executions ordered by FMLN because the victims were considered traitors. He was 
not given a trial. After a time, FMLN claimed responsibility for having ordered 
the killing. It never revealed which organization had carried out the 
execution . 


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The killings of mayors and the murder of United States military personnel 
in the Zona Rosa were carried out in response to orders or general directives 
issued by the FMLN Command to its organizations. 

In the Zona Rosa case in 1985, the execution of Mr. Peccorini in 1989, and 
the execution of Mr. Garcia Alvarado that same year, different member 
organizations of FMLN interpreted general policy directives restrictively and 
applied them sporadically, thereby triggering an upsurge in the violence. 

In the case of executions of mayors, on the other hand, instructions from 
the FMLN General Command were interpreted broadly and applied extensively. 

During the period 1985-1989, the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo repeatedly 
carried out extrajudicial executions of non-combatant civilians. There is no 
concept under international humanitarian law whereby such people could have been 
considered military targets. 

The Commission was not able to verify the existence of general directives 
from the FMLN leadership to its constituent organizations authorizing enforced 
disappearances. It did receive complaints of some 300 cases of disappearance, 
which occurred mainly in areas where FMLN exercised greater military control. 

It was not possible to establish the existence of any pattern from an analysis 
of these complaints. Nevertheless, links were observed between disappearances, 
forcible recruitment by FMLN and cases of extrajudicial execution by FMLN 
members of individuals labelled spies or traitors. 

The extrajudicial execution of the United States military personnel who 
survived the attack on their helicopter in San Miguel in 1991 cannot be viewed 
as the norm. FMLN admitted that some of its members had been responsible, and 
stated publicly that it had been a mistake. However, there is no record that 
those who carried out the execution were actually punished. 

Lastly, although the number of complaints of the alleged use of land-mines 
by guerrilla forces was small, the Commission considered accusations made by 
various organizations against FMLN to that effect. Members of FMLN admitted to 
the Commission that they had laid mines with little or no supervision, so much 
so that civilians and their own members who were not sufficiently familiar with 
the location of minefields had been affected. The Commission did not find any 
other evidence on this subject. 

B. VIOLENCE AGAINST OPPONENTS BY AGENTS OF THE STATE 

1. ILLUSTRATIVE CASE: THE MURDERS OF THE JESUIT PRIESTS 

SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

In the early hours on 16 November 1989, six Jesuit priests, a cook and her 
16-year-old daughter were shot and killed at the Pastoral Centre of 
Jose Simeon Canas Central American University (UCA) in San Salvador. The 
victims were Fathers Ignacio Ellacuria, Rector of the University; 

Ignacio Martin-Baro, Vice-Rector; Segundo Montes, Director of the Human Rights 
Institute; Amando Lopez, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez and Juan Ramon Moreno, all 
teachers at UCA; and Julia Elba Ramos and her daughter, Celina Mariceth Ramos. 


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Criminal proceedings were subsequently brought against members of the armed 
forces for the murders; they included 

Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno, Director of the Military College, 
accused of having given the order to murder the priests; 

Lieutenant Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos, an officer of the Military College, 
and Lieutenants Jose Ricardo Espinoza Guerra and Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos, 
officers of the Atlacatl Battalion, all of them accused of commanding the 
operation; and five soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion, accused of committing 
the murders. 

In 1991, a jury found Colonel Benavides guilty of all the murders and 
Lieutenant Mendoza Vallecillos guilty of the murder of the young girl, 

Celina Mariceth Ramos. The judge imposed the maximum sentence, 30 years in 
prison, which they are currently serving. The judge also found 

Colonel Benavides and Lieutenant Mendoza guilty of instigation and conspiracy to 
commit acts of terrorism. Lieutenants Espinoza and Guevara Cerritos were 
sentenced to three years for instigation and conspiracy to commit acts of 
terrorism. Lieutenant Colonel Hernandez was convicted by the judge of being an 
accessory, as was Mendoza Vallecillos. All, except for Colonel Benavides and 
Lieutenant Mendoza, were released on bail and remained in the armed forces. 

The Commission on the Truth makes the following findings and 
recommendations : 

1. On the night of 15 November 1989, then Colonel Rene Emilio Ponce, in 
the presence of an in collusion with General Juan Rafael Bustillo, then 
Colonel Juan Orlando Zepeda, Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano and 

Colonel Francisco Elena Fuentes, gave Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides the 
order to kill Father Ignacio Ellacuria and to leave no witnesses. For that 
purpose. Colonel Benavides was given the use of a unit from the Atlacatl 
Battalion, which had been sent to search the priests' residence two days 
previously . 

2. Subsequently, all these officers and others, including 

General Gilberto Rubio Rubio, knowing what had happened, took steps to conceal 
the truth. 

3. That same night. Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides informed the 
officers at the Military College of the order for the murder. When he asked 
whether anyone had any objection, they all remained silent. 

4. The operation was organized by then Major 

Carlos Camilo Hernandez Barahona and carried out by a group of soldiers from the 
Atlacatl Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Jose Ricardo Espinoza Guerra 
and Second Lieutenant Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos, accompanied by 
Lieutenant Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos. 

5. Colonel Oscar Alberto Leon Linares, Commander of the Atlacatl 
Battalion, knew of the murder and concealed incriminating evidence. 

6. Colonel Manuel Antonio Rivas Mejia, Head of the Commission for the 
Investigation of Criminal Acts (CIHD) , learnt the facts and concealed the truth; 


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he also recommended to Colonel Benavides measures for the destruction of 
incriminating evidence. 

7. Colonel Nelson Ivan Lopez y Lopez, who was assigned to assist in the 
CIHD investigation, learnt what had happened and concealed the truth. 

8. Rodolfo Antonio Parker Soto, a lawyer and member of the Special Honour 
Commission, altered statements in order to conceal the responsibility of senior 
officers for the murder. 

9. The Commission believes that it is unfair that Colonel 
Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno and Lieutenant 

Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos should still be in prison when the people 
responsible for planning the murders and the person who gave the order remain at 
liberty. In the Commission's view, the request by the Society of Jesus that 
Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno and Lieutenant 

Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos be pardoned should be granted by the relevant 
authorities . 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 128 / 

In the early hours of 16 November 1989, a group of soldiers from the 
Atlacatl Battalion entered the campus of Jose Simeon Canas Central American 
University (UCA) in San Salvador. They made their way to the Pastoral Centre, 
which was the residence of Jesuit priests Ignacio Ellacuria, Rector of the 
University; Ignacio Martin-Baro, Vice-Rector; Segundo Montes, Director of the 
Human Rights Institute; and Amando Lopez, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez and 
Juan Ramon Moreno, all teachers at UCA. 

The soldiers tried to force their way into the Pastoral Centre. When the 
priests realized what was happening, they let the soldiers in voluntarily. The 
soldiers searched the building and ordered the priests to go out into the back 
garden and lie face down on the ground. 

The lieutenant in command, Jose Ricardo Espinoza Guerra, gave the order to 
kill the priests. Fathers Ellacuria, Martin-Baro and Montes were shot and 
killed by Private Oscar Mariano Amaya Grimaldi, Fathers Lopez and Moreno by 
Deputy Sergeant Antonio Ramiro Avalos Vargas. Shortly afterwards, the soldiers, 
including Corporal Angel Perez Vasquez, found Father Joaquin Lopez y Lopez 
inside the residence and killed him. Deputy Sergeant Tomas Zarpate Castillo 
shot Julia Elva Ramos, who was working in the residence, and her 16-year-old 
daughter, Celina Mariceth Ramos. Private Jose Alberto Sierra Ascencio shot them 
again, finishing them off. 

The soldiers took a small suitcase belonging to the priests, with 
photographs, documents and $5,000. 

They fired a machine gun at the fagade of the residence and launched 
rockets and grenades. Before leaving, they wrote on a piece of cardboard: 

"FMLN executed those who informed on it. Victory or death, FMLN . " 


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Preceding events 

A few hours earlier, on 15 November between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.. 

Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno, Director of the Military College, 
met with the officers under his command. The officers present included 
Major Carlos Camilo Hernandez Barahona, Captain Jose Fuentes Rodas, 

Lieutenants Mario Arevalo Melendez, Nelson Alberto Barra Zamora, 

Francisco Monico Gallardo Mata, Jose Vicente Hernandez Ayala, 

Ramon Eduardo Lopez Larios, Rene Roberto Lopez Morales, 

Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos, Edgar Santiago Martinez Marroquin and Second 
Lieutenant Juan de Jesus Guzman Morales. 

Colonel Benavides told them that he had just come from a meeting at the 
General Staff at which special measures had been adopted to combat FMLN 
offensive, which had begun on 11 November. Those present at the meeting had 
been informed that the situation was critical and it had been decided that 
artillery and armoured vehicles should be used. 

Those present at the meeting had also been informed that all known 
subversive elements must be eliminated. Colonel Benavides said that he had 
received orders to eliminate Father Ignacio Ellacuria and to leave no witnesses. 

Colonel Benavides asked any officers who objected to the order to raise 
their hands. No one did. 

Major Hernandez Barahona organized the operation. Troops from the Atlacatl 
Battalion were used, under the command of Lieutenant 

Jose Ricardo Espinoza Guerra. In order to overcome any reluctance on his part, 
it was arranged that Lieutenant Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos, who had 
graduated from officer training school in the same class ("tanda") as him, would 
also participate. 

After the meeting. Major Hernandez Barahona met with 
Lieutenant Mendoza Vallecillos, Lieutenant Espinoza Guerra and Second 
Lieutenant Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos of the Atlacatl Battalion. In order to pin 
responsibility for the deaths on FMLN, they decided not to use regulation 
firearms and to leave no witnesses. After the murders, they would simulate an 
attack and leave a sign mentioning FMLN. 

It was decided to use an AK-47 rifle belonging to Major Hernandez Barahona, 
because the weapon had been captured from FMLN and was identifiable. The rifle 
was entrusted to Private Mariano Amaya Grimaldi, who knew how to use it. 

In order to reach UCA, it was necessary to pass through the defence cordons 
of the military complex. Lieutenant Martinez Marroquin arranged for the 
Atlacatl soldiers to pass. 

Lieutenants Espinoza Guerra and Mendoza Vallecillos and Second 
Lieutenant Guevara Cerritos left the Military College in two pick-up trucks with 
the soldiers from the Atlacatl Battalion. They went to some empty buildings 
which are close to the UCA campus, where other soldiers of the Atlacatl 
Battalion were waiting. There, Lieutenant Espinoza indicated who would keep 
watch and who would enter the Jesuits' residence. 


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Background 

Members of the armed forces used to call UCA a "refuge of subversives". 
Colonel Juan Orlando Zepeda, Vice-Minister for Defence, publicly accused UCA of 
being the centre of operations where FMLN terrorist strategy was planned. 
Colonel Inocente Montano, Vice-Minister for Public Security, stated publicly 
that the Jesuits were fully identified with subversive movements. 

Father Ellacuria had played an important role in the search for a 
negotiated, peaceful solution to the armed conflict. Sectors of the armed 
forces identified the Jesuit priests with FMLN because of the priests' special 
concern for those sectors of Salvadorian society who were poorest and most 
affected by the war. 

On two earlier occasions that same year, 1989, bombs had gone off at the 
University printing house. 

The offensive 


The offensive launched by FMLN on 11 November reached proportions that the 
armed forces had not expected and which alarmed them. The guerrillas gained 
control of various areas in and around San Salvador. They attacked the official 
and private residences of the President of the Republic and the residence of the 
President of the Legislative Assembly. They also attacked the barracks of the 
First, Third and Sixth Infantry Brigades and those of the National Police. On 
12 November, the Government declared a state of emergency and imposed a 6 p.m. 
to 6 a.m. curfew. 

At a meeting of the General Staff on 13 November, security commands were 
created to deal with the offensive. Each command was headed by an officer under 
the operational control of Colonel Rene Emilio Ponce, Chief of the Armed Forces 
Joint Staff. Colonel Benavides Moreno was designated to head the military 
complex security command, a zone which included the Military College, the 
Ministry of Defence, the Joint Staff, the National Intelligence Department 
(DNI), the Arce and Palermo districts (most of whose residents were members of 
the armed forces), the residence of the United States Ambassador and the UCA 
campus . 

A national radio channel was also established, the pilot station being 
Radio Cuscatlan of the armed forces. Telephone calls to the station were 
broadcast in a "phone-in" in which callers levelled accusations at 
Father Ellacuria and went so far as to call for his death. 

On 11 November, guerrillas blew up one of the main gates of the University 
and crossed the University campus. The next day, a military detachment was 
stationed to watch who went in and out of the University. From 13 November 
onwards no one was permitted onto the campus. 

On 13 November, Colonel Ponce ordered Colonel Joaquin Arnoldo Cerna Flores, 
head of unit III of the General Staff, to arrange for a search of UCA premises. 
According to Colonel Ponce, he ordered the search because he had been informed 
that there were over 200 guerrillas inside the University. 


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Colonel Cerna Flores entrusted the search to Lieutenant 
Jose Ricardo Espinoza Guerra, who took some 100 men from the Atlacatl Battalion. 
Lieutenant Hector Ulises Cuenca Ocampo of the National Intelligence Department 
(DNI) joined the troops at the entrance to UCA to assist with the search. 
Lieutenant Espinoza Guerra personally directed the search of the Jesuits' 
residence. They found no signs of any guerrilla presence, war materiel or 
propaganda . 

On completing the search. Lieutenant Espinoza Guerra reported to 
Major Hernandez Barahona. He then went to the General Staff where he reported 
to Colonel Cerna Flores. 

At 6.30 p.m. on 15 November there was a meeting of the General Staff with 
military heads and commanders to adopt new measures to deal with the offensive. 
Colonel Ponce authorized the elimination of ringleaders, trade unionists and 
known leaders of FMLN and a decision was taken to step up bombing by the Air 
Force and to use artillery and armoured vehicles to dislodge FMLN from the areas 
it controlled. 

The Minister of Defence, General Rafael Humberto Larios Lopez, asked 
whether anyone objected. No hand was raised. It was agreed that 
President Cristiani would be consulted about the measures. 

After the meeting, the officers stayed in the room talking in groups. One 
of these groups consisted of Colonel Rene Emilio Ponce, 

General Juan Rafael Bustillo, Colonel Francisco Elena Fuentes, 

Colonel Juan Orlando Zepeda and Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano. Colonel Ponce 
called over Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides and, in front of the four other 
officers, ordered him to eliminate Father Ellacuria and to leave no witnesses. 

He also ordered him to use the unit from the Atlacatl Battalion which had 
carried out the search two days earlier. 

From 12 to 1.30 a.m. the next day, 16 November, President Cristiani met 
with the High Command. According to his statement, the President approved a new 
arrangement for using armoured units of the cavalry regiment and artillery 
pieces; at no time during this meeting was anything said about UCA. 

The cover-up 

During the early hours of the morning of 16 November, Major 
Carlos Camilo Hernandez Barahona and Lieutenant Jose Vicente Hernandez Ayala 
went in person to Colonel Ponce's office to report on everything that had 
happened at UCA. They reported that they had a small suitcase with photographs, 
documents and money which the soldiers had stolen from the Jesuits a few hours 
earlier. Colonel Ponce ordered it destroyed because it was evidence of the 
armed forces' responsibility. They destroyed the suitcase at the Military 
College . 

On returning to his unit. Lieutenant Espinoza Guerra informed the Commander 
of the Atlacatl Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Alberto Leon Linares, of 
what had happened. 


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President Cristiani entrusted the investigation of the crime to the 
Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts (CIHD) . 

Colonel Benavides told Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Antonio Rivas Mejia, Head 
of CIHD, what had happened and asked him for help. Mejia recommended that the 
barrels of the weapons which had been used be destroyed and replaced with others 
in order to prevent them from being identified during ballistic tests. This was 
later done with the assistance of Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Alberto Leon Linares. 

Lieutenant Colonel Rivas Mejia also advised Colonel Benavides to make sure 
that no record remained of those entering and leaving the Military College that 
would make it possible to identify the culprits. Subsequently, 

Colonel Benavides and Major Hernandez Barahona ordered that all Military College 
arrival and departure logs for that year and the previous year be burned. 

Shortly after the investigation began. Colonel Rene Emilio Ponce arranged 
for Colonel Nelson Ivan Lopez y Lopez, head of unit I of the General Staff, who 
had also been in charge of the General Staff Tactical Operations Centre during 
the entire night of 15 to 16 November, to join CIHD in order to assist in the 
investigation of the case. 

In November, CIHD heard two witnesses. Deputy Sergeant 
German Orellana Vazquez and police officer Victor Manuel Orellana Hernandez, who 
testified that they had seen soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion near UCA that 
night; they later changed their statements. 

Another witness also retracted her initial statement. 

Lucia Barrera de Cerna, an employee at the University, said that she had seen, 
from a building adjacent to the Jesuits' residence, soldiers in camouflage and 
berets. In the United States, where she went for protection, she was questioned 
by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and retracted her earlier 
statement. Lieutenant Colonel Rivas Mejia, Head of CIHD, was present when she 
was questioned. Subsequently, she confirmed her original statement. 

CIHD did not take a statement from Colonel Benavides, even though the 
incident had occurred within his command zone. According to the court dossier, 
the first statement Benavides made was on 11 January 1990 to the Special Honour 
Commission . 

On 2 January 1990, a month and a half after the murders. 

Major Eric Warren Buckland, an officer of the United States Army and an adviser 
to the armed forces of El Salvador, reported to his superior. 

Lieutenant Colonel William Hunter, a conversation he had some days previously 
with Colonel Carlos Armando Aviles Buitrago. During that conversation, 

Aviles Buitrago had told him that he had learnt, through Colonel Lopez y Lopez, 
that Benavides had arranged the murders and that a unit from the Atlacatl 
Battalion had carried them out. He also said that Benavides had asked 
Lieutenant Colonel Rivas Mejia for help. 

Lieutenant Colonel William Hunter informed the Chief of the United States 
Military Mission, Colonel Milton Menjivar, who arranged a meeting in 
Colonel Ponce's office where Buckland and Aviles were brought face to face. 
Aviles denied having given Buckland such information. 


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A few days after Buckland' s statements were reported, the Minister of 
Defence established a Special Honour Commission, consisting of five officers and 
two civilians, to investigate the murders. 

On learning what CIHD had found out, the Honour Commission questioned some 
30 members of the Atlacatl Battalion, including Lieutenant Espinoza Guerra and 
Second Lieutenant Guevara Cerritors, and a number of officers of the Military 
College, including Colonel Benavides and Lieutenant Mendoza Vallecillos. 

Lieutenants Espinoza and Mendoza and Second Lieutenant Guevara, as well as 
the soldiers who had participated in the murders, confessed their crime in 
extrajudicial statements to the Honour Commission. 

A civilian member of the Commission, Rodolfo Antonio Parker Soto, legal 
adviser to the General Staff, altered their statements in order to delete any 
reference to the existence of orders from above. He also deleted the references 
to some officers, including the one to Major Carlos Camilo Hernandez Barahona. 

On 12 January, the Commission submitted its report to President Cristiani. 
The report identified nine people as being responsible for the murders, four 
officers and five soldiers; they were arrested and later brought to trial. 
Subsequently, newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Camilo Hernandez Barahona 
was included in the trial. 

The pre-trial proceedings took nearly two years. During this time. Colonel 
(now General) Rene Emilio Ponce, Colonel (now General) Juan Orlando Zepeda, 
Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano and Colonel (now General) Gilberto Rubio Rubio 
pressured lower-ranking officers not to mention orders from above in their 
testimony to the court. 

Finally, the trial by jury took place on 26, 27 and 28 September 1991 in 
the building of the Supreme Court of Justice. The identity of the five members 
of the jury was kept secret. The accused and the charges were as follows: 

Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno, Lieutenant 
Jose Ricardo Espinoza Guerra and Second Lieutenant Gonzalo Guevara 
Cerritos: accused of murder, acts of terrorism, acts preparatory to 

terrorism and instigation and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism. 

Lieutenant Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos: accused of murder, acts of 

terrorism, acts preparatory to terrorism, instigation and conspiracy to 
commit acts of terrorism and of being an accessory. 

Deputy Sergeant Antonio Ramiro Avalos Vargas, Deputy 

Sergeant Tomas Zarpate Castillo, Corporal Angel Perez Vasquez and Private 
Oscar Mariano Amaya Grimaldi: accused of murder, acts of terrorism and 

acts preparatory to terrorism. 

Private Jorge Alberto Sierra Ascencio: tried in absentia for murder. 

Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Camilo Hernandez Barahona: accused of being an 

accessory . 


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The jury had to decide only with respect to the charges of murder and acts 
of terrorism. The other charges were left to the judge to decide. 

Only Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno and 
Lieutenant Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos were found guilty of murder. The 
judge gave them the maximum sentence, 30 years in prison, which they are 
currently serving. The judge also found Colonel Benavides and Lieutenant 
Mendoza guilty of instigation and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism. 
Lieutenants Espinoza and Guevara Cerritos were sentenced to three years for 
instigation and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism. Lieutenant Colonel 
Hernandez was also sentenced by the judge to three years for being an accessory 
and Mendoza Vallecillos was also convicted on that charge. Espinoza, Guevara 
and Hernandez were released and continued in active service in the armed forces. 

FINDINGS 

The Commission on the Truth makes the following findings and 
recommendations : 

1. There is substantial evidence that on the night of 15 November 1989, 
then Colonel Rene Emilio Ponce, in the presence of and in collusion with 
General Juan Rafael Bustillo, then Colonel Juan Orlando Zepeda, 

Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano and Colonel Francisco Elena Fuentes, gave 
Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides the order to kill Father Ignacio Ellacuria 
and to leave no witnesses. For that purpose. Colonel Benavides was given the 
use of a unit from the Atlacatl Battalion, which two days previously had been 
sent to search the priest's residence. 

2. There is evidence that, subsequently, all these officers and others, 
knowing what had happened, took steps to conceal the truth. There is sufficient 
evidence that General Gilberto Rubio Rubio, knowing what had happened, took 
steps to conceal the truth. 

3. There is full evidence that: 

(a) That same night of 15 November, Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides 
informed the officers at the Military College of the order he had been given for 
the murder. When he asked whether anyone had any objection, they all remained 
silent . 

(b) The operation was organized by then Major 

Carlos Camilo Hernandez Barahona and carried out by a group of soldiers from the 
Atlacatl Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Jose Ricardo Espinoza Guerra 
and Second Lieutenant Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos, accompanied by Lieutenant 
Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos. 

4. There is substantial evidence that: 

(a) Colonel Oscar Alberto Leon Linares, Commander of the Atlacatl 
Battalion, knew of the murder and concealed incriminating evidence. 

(b) Colonel Manual Antonio Rivas Mejia of the Commission for the 
Investigation of Criminal Acts (CIHD) learnt the facts and concealed the truth 


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and also recommended to Colonel Benavides measures for the destruction of 
incriminating evidence. 

(c) Colonel Nelson Ivan Lopez y Lopez, who was assigned to assist in the 
CIHD investigation, learnt what had happened and concealed the truth. 

5. There is full evidence that Rodolfo Antonio Parker Soto, a member of 
the Special Honour Commission, altered statements in order to conceal the 
responsibility of senior officers for the murder. 

6. The Commission believes that it is unfair that Colonel 
Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno and Lieutenant 

Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos should still be in prison when the people 
responsible for planning the murders and the person who gave the order for the 
murder remain at liberty. In the Commission's view, the request by the Society 
of Jesus that Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno and 

Lieutenant Yusshy Rene Mendoza Vallecillos be pardoned should be granted by the 
relevant authorities. 

2. EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS 

(a) SAN FRANCISCO GUAJOYO 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

In the early hours of 29 May 1980, 58 members of the security forces and 
the Second Infantry Brigade arrived at San Francisco Guajoyo cooperative in 
Belen Giiijat canton. Metapan district. Department of Santa Ana, dragged members 
of the cooperative from their homes in the adjoining houses and took them to the 
central area of the farm. 

That same morning, the bodies of 12 victims were found, covered with a 
blanket on which were written the words "killed as traitors". Shortly 
afterwards, the justice of the peace carried out the requisite procedures. 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. On 29 May 1980, two employees of the Salvadorian Institute for 
Agrarian Reform (ISTA) and 10 members of the San Francisco Guajoyo cooperative 
were executed with large-calibre firearms in the central area of the 
cooperative, after having been dragged from their homes. 

2. The deaths did not occur during an armed confrontation. 

3. Members of the Second Infantry Brigade and of the security forces 
having jurisdiction in the Department of Santa Ana were responsible for the 
incident . 

4. The Salvadorian State bears full responsibility for the execution of 
the cooperative members, which was a violation of international humanitarian law 
and international human rights law, and for having taken no action to identify 
and punish those responsible. 


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DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 129 / 

General background 

The San Francisco Guajoyo cooperative was founded in 1977 and there were 
some 260 families who were members. The organization did a great deal of 
educational and advocacy work. 

The army and security forces launched a smear campaign against members of 
the cooperative, accusing them of being guerrillas. In 1979, the threats 
increased. There were constant army patrols and persecution was stepped up. 

Most members of the cooperative used to sleep in the hills for fear of being 
dragged from their homes in the night. 

The operations were carried out by troops from the Second Brigade and by 
security forces, often accompanied by civil defence members. The accusation was 
always the alleged ties between cooperative members and the guerrillas, but 
cooperative members believed that the real motive was to block their demands. 

The military operation 

In the early hours of 29 May 1980, between 50 and 80 members of the Second 
Infantry Brigade, the National Police, the Treasury Police and the National 
Guard, including some National Guard members who were responsible for guarding 
the Guajoyo CEL, approached the San Francisco Guajoyo cooperative building. 

The military contingent entered the cooperative from two equidistant 
points, moving in on the stable and dwellings located near its centre. They 
dragged cooperative members from their homes and took them to the central area 
of the farm. People were arrested according to a list, "although towards the 
end, they were taking anyone to the courtyard of the house". 

Soldiers simultaneously burst into the cooperative offices, seizing three 
members of the cooperative who were looking after the premises. The group that 
entered the offices was headed by Adan Figueroa, 130 / known as "calache", of the 
Treasury Police, originally from Tahuilapa canton. They took the three to the 
central area of the farm. One of the survivors observed that "the others had 
already been made to lie face down, ready to be killed". Everyone was asked who 
they were and where they were hiding the weapons. A few minutes later the 
shooting began. 

On realizing the operation was under way, particularly on hearing the noise 
of houses being searched, other members of the cooperative ran from their homes. 
One witness stated that a member who was on guard in the cooperative's tobacco 
storeroom came to his house to warn him that a military truck had arrived. He 
was able to hide in time, but he heard the shots and "the cries and suffering" 
of those who had been arrested. 

The executions 


Twelve people were executed. According to the records of the Metapan 
Second Magistrate's Court, the bodies were found in the central area of the 
farm. Seven bodies were found in the farmhouse courtyard, lying at intervals of 


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about half a metre apart. The remaining five bodies were lying at a short 
distance from the first group. According to the forensic examination, all the 
wounds were caused by large-calibre weapons. 

They executed people who apparently were not on the list. This was true of 
Jose Angel Mira, a mentally handicapped person who was arrested. When his 
father asked them to let his son go, the officer told him to lie down next to 
his son so that they could die together. This is what in fact happened. 

Members of the cooperative who had fled to the hills found the bodies when 
they returned after the attack. Near the bodies they found a blanket on which 
were written the words "killed as traitors". According to witnesses, combined 
forces often did this to create confusion as to who was responsible. 

Public version of the incident 


The next day, a press source reported that a guerrilla camp had been 
discovered in an area close to Metapan "hours after alleged left-wing guerrillas 
killed 12 peasants, members of a cooperative which was working a farm taken over 
as part of the agrarian reform, in the area where the camp was discovered" . It 
went on to say that "the Armed Forces Press Committee told ACAN-EFE" that some 
30 guerrillas had joined the battle with the members of the National Guard who 
discovered the camp. According to the source, there had been no military 
casualties; however, it did not specify the number of guerrilla casualties 
either . 

Another source, under the headline "12 killed at farm in subversive 
attack", reported an armed confrontation in which 12 people had been killed; 
"mostly peasants, and two ISTA employees wounded, at the San Francisco farm in 
Metapan district". It also reported that troops had been deployed: "men in 

olive-green uniforms entered the farm at Guajoyo in La Joya canton. Metapan 
district " . 

Action taken by the judiciary 

On the morning of the executions, the competent justice of the peace went 
to the cooperative with his secretary and two forensic doctors to carry out the 
requisite legal procedures. The main findings in the record are as follows: 

(a) Twelve people were shot and killed in the early hours of that day; 

(b) Witnesses stated that a group of individuals in olive-green uniforms 
accompanied by civilians, who had dragged the victims from their homes, were 
responsible for the execution; 

(c) According to the forensic examination, a number of the victims had 
been shot in the back and several of the bodies had been shot at close 

range. 131 / Furthermore it was not possible to determine where the bullets had 
entered and exited the bodies. 132 / Several of the victims were barefoot and 
only half dressed. 

Having completed the preliminary inquiries, the justice of the peace 
transmitted the information to the ordinary court to institute the corresponding 


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judicial investigation. That court took no further action and filed the 
information . 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is full evidence that, on 29 May 1980, two employees of the 
Salvadorian Institute for Agrarian Reform (ISTA) and 10 members of the 

San Francisco Guajoyo cooperative were executed with large-calibre firearms in 
the central area of the cooperative, after having been dragged from their homes. 

2. There is sufficient evidence to attribute responsibility for the 
incident to members of the Second Infantry Brigade and of the security forces 
having jurisdiction in the Department of Santa Ana. 

3. The Salvadorian State bears full responsibility for the execution of 
the cooperative members, which was a violation of international humanitarian law 
and international human rights law, and for having taken no action to identify 
and punish those responsible. 


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(b) THE LEADERS OF THE FRENTE DEMOCRATICO REVOLUCIONARIO 
SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 27 November 1980, Enrique Alvarez Cordoba, 133 / Juan Chacon, 134 / 

Enrique Escobar Barrera, 135 / Manuel de Jesus Franco Ramirez, 136 / 

Humberto Mendoza 137 / and Doroteo Hernandez, 138 / political leaders of the 
Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FDR) , 139 / representing an important sector 
of Salvadorian society, were abducted, tortured and, after a short period in 
captivity, executed in San Salvador. 

The abduction was carried out during the morning at the Colegio San Jose by 
a large number of heavily armed men. 

The climate of violence and insecurity prevailing in the country at the 
time was such that, had it not been for who the victims were, the place and time 
of the abduction, the type of operation and the public outrage it caused, it 
would have been just one more in the long list of abuses that were occurring at 
the time. 

The Commission on the Truth concludes that it was an operation carried out 
by one or more public security forces and that the Treasury Police were 
responsible for the external security operation which aided and abetted the 
perpetrators. By commission and, in failing to properly investigate the 
incident, by omission, the State failed to comply with its obligations under 
international human rights law to protect and guarantee the enjoyment by 
individuals of their most elementary rights. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE INCIDENT 

The six victims were abducted from the Colegio San Jose, a Jesuit School 
Society in the very heart of the capital city, San Salvador, between 9.30 a.m. 
and 11 a.m. on 27 November 1980. In the immediate vicinity of the school, there 
are other educational centres, a number of hospitals and, to the north, the 
former United States Embassy, which at the time was under heavy guard. 

The ground floor of the central building housed the rector' s office, the 
administration and the Christian Legal Aid office, which had been in existence 
since 1975 when the school had started working with the neediest social sectors. 

The workload of Christian Legal Aid had increased appreciably because, in 
addition to the normal stream of people coming to seek assistance, other 
entities which had been doing the same kind of work had closed their doors 
because of the prevailing climate of terror. 140 / 

Despite the large numbers of people going in and out of the school, the 
building had no security system. There were just a few unarmed porters at the 
central entrance to the educational complex. That morning there was only one 
porter at the main entrance. 


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The facts 


The operation was carried out between 9.30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Initially, an 
unspecified number of men seized the porter, took him some 500 metres from the 
entrance and radioed to other people that they could go in. 

They opened the gate and let in a number of vehicles carrying people who 
were heavily armed with machine-guns and "G3" rifles. 141 / The group went 
swiftly over to the central entrance of the main building and placed people 
against the wall ordering them to lie on the ground and close their eyes. 

Members of the group also stationed themselves at the entrances to the school 
and dealt in similar fashion with anyone who approached. Reports at the time 
put the total number of men who participated in the operation at between 13 and 
200. 142 / According to the information received, the speed with which the 
bodies were dumped in the street in full view of passers-by was clearly intended 
to ensure that they were readily identified, so as to lessen the political 
pressure on the case. 

The first four bodies and that of Alvarez Cordoba were found on the 
outskirts of the resort city of Apulo, in Ilopango district, approximately one 
hour by car from San Salvador. The Ilopango justice of the peace made the legal 
examination and opened a dossier which was later sent to the Fourth Criminal 
Court in San Salvador. 

The Commission did not find that any judicial, police or administrative 
remedy had been sought to preserve the physical integrity of the abducted men. 

In its view, this was because people were very afraid and distrustful of using 
judicial bodies. 

The Court dossier which the Commission studied shows clearly that the organ 
entrusted with investigating the case did not conduct a proper investigation; it 
finally closed the case on 8 October 1982. In fact, only bureaucratic measures 
were taken; no autopsy was performed, nor was anything else done to clarify the 
facts and find out who was responsible. 143 / 

ANALYSIS 

Once the news broke, a war of communiques ensued over who had committed the 
deed, whether part of the security forces or else the death squads acting 
without the direct participation of government forces. The possibility of it 
being the work of left-wing groups was also considered. 144 / The government 
Junta, for its part, urged that the physical and psychological integrity of the 
abducted leaders be respected. 145 / 

At the political level, the abduction of the opposition leaders closed the 
door to negotiations and fuelled demands for armed confrontation against the 
third Revolutionary Government Junta. It is worth recalling that the very day 
the incident occurred, the former Foreign Minister, Fidel Chavez Mena, was in 
Washington, D.C. at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States 
(OAS), talking with church and opposition circles in an effort to secure a 
negotiated outcome to the crisis. 146 / 


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The Revolutionary Government Junta (JRG) offered to carry out an exhaustive 
investigation into the incident and emphatically denied that security forces 
under its command had participated. The investigations that were carried out 
were purely a formality. For example, although a considerable number of people 
had been present when the incident took place, only four of them were 
interviewed. The Commission requested, but was not given, the report of the 
National Police. 147 / 

The incident outraged public opinion, prompting the armed forces and the 
Office of the President to interview some of the eyewitnesses. All political 
sectors in the country disclaimed responsibility for the incident, accusing 
other sectors. 

FDR turned the funeral into a political rally, introducing the 
organization's new leadership and asserting that paramilitary groups, with the 
complicity at least of the security forces, were responsible for the 
murders. 148 / 

From all the evidence which the Commission has gathered, it is clear that 
the purpose of the operation was to arrest the FDR leaders. It does not seem 
possible that the operation and its outcome could have occurred by chance or 
that it could have had any other purpose. The manner in which those 
participating in the operation entered the building and the surrounding area 
leaves no doubt that it was, indeed, an operation designed specifically to 
capture the leaders. 

According to the various theories that have been put forward, the operation 
was carried out by paramilitary groups, by security forces or by a combination 
of the two; it may also have been an independent operation by members of those 
State organs. 

For example, the Brigada Anticomunista General Maximiliano Hernandez 
Martinez claimed responsibility for the murders. This group has been identified 
as one of several which the extreme right-wing used to claim responsibility for 
such actions. One witness told the Commission that, at the time the incident 
occurred, some soldiers in active service were members of the Brigade. 

In the Commission's view, the characteristics of the operation show that, 
while there may not have been unified planning by some security forces, the 
coverage provided for the execution of the crime was centralized and, without 
it, the operation would have been highly risky or very difficult to carry out. 

In any event, it is unlikely that the operation could have been carried out so 
openly without at least the complicity of the security forces which, moreover, 
were keeping a close watch on the political leaders and on the school itself 
because of the activities that were going on there. 

Indeed, the time, the place, the number of personnel, the radio equipment, 
vehicles, weapons and uniforms used, the slang and the chain of command, the 
fact that the participants withdrew without any problem and the absence of a 
proper investigation by the security forces indicate the extent to which those 
forces were involved. 


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According to diplomatic reports, it was widely believed that the crime had 
been committed by security forces including, possibly, the Treasury Police. The 
testimony given by several people points in this direction. The Commission has 
substantial evidence that the Treasury Police carried out the security operation 
on the school's perimeter. The Commission summonsed several officers who held 
positions of responsibility at the time in that institution. The few who did 
appear roundly denied having had anything to do with the incident. 

Other information received by the Commission concerning the activities of 
the security and intelligence forces indicates that the National Guard carried 
out the operation, acting independently of the General Staff. 

As indicated earlier, the Commission cannot, in any case, accept the idea 
that the operation was carried out without the cooperation of senior commanders 
of one or more security forces, which at the time were headed by military 
officers . 

Based on the available information, it is difficult to determine whether 
the operation was planned at the highest level of the armed forces or whether, 
instead, it was instigated by middle-ranking commanders of the security forces, 
resulting in de facto situations that were difficult to reverse. 

Lastly, the Commission tried in vain to establish who gave the order to 
kill the FDR leaders and whether that was part of the original plan or was 
decided upon subsequently. Given the conditions of violence prevailing at the 
time, an operation of this kind clearly involved a very high risk that the 
persons captured would be eliminated. 

The Commission received reliable information that the final execution order 
was discussed at the highest level of right-wing sectors. It is alleged that 
there were telephone calls between those who carried out the murders and those 
who planned them. According to the testimony received, the latter allegedly 
decided to act as swiftly as possible in order to reduce the political pressure 
created by the capture of the victims. 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds that: 

1 . The abduction, torture and subsequent murder of the political and 
trade union leaders was an act that outraged national and international public 
opinion and closed the door to any possibility of a negotiated solution to the 
political crisis at the end of 1980. It was a very serious act which warranted 
the most thorough investigation by the Commission on the Truth. 

2. It is not possible to determine precisely which public security force 
carried out these criminal operations. Nevertheless, the Commission considers 
that there is sufficient evidence to indicate that State bodies were jointly 
responsible for this incident, which violated international human rights law. 

3. The Commission has substantial evidence that the Treasury Police 
carried out the external security operation which aided and abetted those who 
committed the murders. 


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4 . There has been an obvious lack of interest in ordering an exhaustive 
investigation by an independent State organ to clarify the facts, find out who 
was responsible and bring those responsible to justice. 

(c) THE AMERICAN CHURCHWOMEN 

SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 2 December 1980, members of the National Guard of El Salvador arrested 
four churchwomen after they left the international airport. Churchwomen 
Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan were taken to an isolated 
spot and subsequently executed by being shot at close range. 

In 1984, Deputy Sergeant Luis Antonio Colindres Aleman and National Guard 
members Daniel Canales Ramirez, Carlos Joaquin Contreras Palacios, 

Francisco Orlando Contreras Recinos and Jose Roberto Moreno Canjura were 
sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder. 

The Commission on the Truth finds that: 

1. The arrest and execution of the churchwomen was planned prior to their 
arrival at the airport. Deputy Sergeant Luis Antonio Colindres Aleman carried 
out orders of a superior to execute them. 

2. Then Colonel Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, Director-General of the 
National Guard, Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Edgardo Casanova Vejar, Commander of 
the Zacatecoluca military detachment. Colonel Roberto Monterrosa, Major 
Lizandro Zepeda Velasco and Sergeant Dagoberto Martinez, among other military 
personnel, knew that members of the National Guard had committed the murders 
pursuant to orders of a superior. The subsequent cover-up of the facts 
adversely affected the judicial investigation process. 

3. The Minister of Defence at the time. General Jose Guillermo Garcia, 
made no serious effort to conduct a thorough investigation of responsibility for 
the murders. 

4. Local commissioner Jose Dolores Melendez also knew of the executions 
carried out by members of the security forces and covered them up. 

5. The State of El Salvador failed in its responsibility to investigate 
the facts thoroughly, to find the culprits and to punish them in accordance with 
the law and the requirements of international human rights law. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 149 / 

The murders 


Shortly after 7 p.m. on 2 December 1980, members of the National Guard of 
El Salvador arrested four churchwomen as they were leaving Comalapa 
International Airport. Churchwomen Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel and 
Jean Donovan were taken to an isolated spot where they were shot dead at close 
range . 


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Two of the four murdered churchwomen, Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, worked in 
Chalatenango and were returning from Nicaragua. The other two had come from 
La Libertad to pick them up at the airport. 

The arrests were planned in advance. Approximately two hours before the 
churchwomen' s arrival. National Guard Deputy Sergeant Luis Antonio Colindres 
Aleman informed five of his subordinates that they were to arrest some people 
who were coming from Nicaragua. 

Colindres then went to the San Luis Talpa command post to warn the 
commander that, if he heard some disturbing noises, he should ignore them, 
because they would be the result of an action which Colindres and his men would 
be carrying out . 

Once the members of the security forces had brought the churchwomen to an 
isolated spot, Colindres returned to his post near the airport. On returning to 
the place where they had taken the churchwomen, he told his men that he had been 
given orders to kill the churchwomen. 

The investigation 

1 . The burial 

The next morning, 3 December, the bodies were found on the road. When the 
justice of the peace arrived, he immediately agreed that they should be buried, 
as local commissioner Jose Dolores Melendez had indicated. Accordingly, local 
residents buried the churchwomen' s bodies in the vicinity. 

The United States Ambassador, Robert White, found out on 4 December where 
the churchwomen' s bodies were. As a result of his intervention and once 
authorization had been obtained from the justice of the peace, the corpses were 
exhumed and taken to San Salvador. There, a group of forensic doctors refused 
to perform autopsies on the grounds that they had no surgical masks. 

2 . The Rogers-Bowdler mission 

Between 6 and 9 December 1980, a special mission arrived in San Salvador, 
headed by Mr. William D. Rogers, a former official in the Administration of 
President Gerald Ford, and Mr. William G. Bowdler, a State Department official. 

They found no direct evidence of the crime, nor any evidence implicating 
the Salvadorian authorities. They concluded that the operation had involved a 
cover-up of the murders. 150 / They also urged the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation (FBI) to play an active role in the investigation. 151 / 

3 . The Monterrosa commission and the Zepeda investigation 

The Government Junta put Colonel Roberto Monterrosa in charge of an 
official commission of investigation. Colonel Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, 
Director-General of the National Guard, put Major Lizandro Zepeda 152 / in charge 
of another investigation. Neither official took the case seriously or sought to 
resolve it. Subsequently, Judge Harold R. Tyler, Jr., appointed by the United 
States Secretary of State, carried out a third investigation. It found that the 


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purpose of the two previous investigations had been to establish a written 
precedent clearing the Salvadorian security forces of blame for the 
killings. 153 / 

(a) The Monterrosa commission 

Colonel Monterrosa admitted that his commission had ruled out the 
possibility that security forces had been involved in the crime; to have 
acknowledged it would have created serious difficulties for the armed forces. 

In fact, Monterrosa kept back the evidence implicating Colindres. In 
February 1981, he sent the United States Embassy the fingerprints of three out 
of four National Guard members from whom the commission had taken statements. 
However, none of them appeared to have been involved in the murders. 

Colonel Monterrosa failed to provide the fingerprints of the fourth man, 
Colindres, from whom testimony had also apparently been taken. Judge Tyler 
therefore concluded that Colonel Monterrosa had not forwarded Colindres' 
fingerprints because he knew from Major Zepeda that Colindres was responsible 
for the executions. 154 / 

(b) The Zepeda investigation 

Major Zepeda reported that there was no evidence that members of the 
National Guard had executed the churchwomen. 155 / According to testimony. 

Major Zepeda personally took charge of covering up for the murderers by ordering 
them to replace their rifles so as not to be detected, and to remain loyal to 
the National Guard by suppressing the facts. 

There is also sufficient evidence that Major Zepeda informed his superior, 
Vides Casanova, of his activities. 156 / 

4 . Resolution of the case 

In April 1981, 157 / the United States Embassy provided the Salvadorian 
authorities with evidence incriminating Colindres and his men. Despite the 
existence of evidence against Colindres, such as the presence of his 
fingerprints on the churchwomen' s minibus, neither he nor his subordinates were 
charged with any crime. 158 / 

In December 1981, Colonel Vides Casanova appointed Major 
Jose Adolfo Medrano to carry out a new investigation. In February 1982, one of 
the persons involved confessed his guilt and implicated the others, including 
Colindres. All of them were charged with the deaths of the churchwomen. 

On 10 February, President Duarte, in a televised message, reported that the 
case had been resolved. He also gave to understand that Colindres and his men 
had acted independently and not on orders of a superior. In conclusion, he said 
that the Government was convinced that the accused were guilty. 159 / 


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The judicial process 

1 . The judicial investigation 

The judicial investigation did not represent any substantial progress over 
what the Medrano working group had done. Nevertheless, under questioning by the 
FBI, Sergeant Dagoberto Martinez, then Colindres' immediate superior, admitted 
to having been told by Colindres himself about the churchwomen' s murders and 
about his direct role in them. On that occasion, Martinez had warned Colindres 
not to say anything unless his superiors asked him about it. Martinez also said 
that he had not been aware that orders had been given by a superior. 160 / 

2 . The trial 

On 23 and 24 May 1984, members of the National Guard were found guilty of 
the executions of the churchwomen and were sentenced to 30 years in prison. 161 / 

It was the first time in Salvadorian history that a member of the armed 
forces had been convicted of murder by a judge. 162 / Despite ambiguous 
statements by some of its official representatives, 163 / the United States 
Government had made its economic and military aid contingent on a resolution of 
the case. 164 / 

The involvement of senior officers 


Although the Tyler Report concluded in 1983, "... based on existing 

evidence", 165 / that senior officers had not been involved, the Commission 
believes that there is sufficient evidence to show that Colindres acted on 
orders of a superior. 

There is also substantial evidence that Lieutenant Colonel 
Oscar Edgardo Casanova Vejar, Commander of the Zacatecoluca detachment, was in 
charge of the National Guard at the national airport at the time when the 
murders of the churchwomen occurred. 

General Vides Casanova and Colonel Casanova Vejar have denied any personal 
involvement in the arrest and execution or in the subsequent cover-up of the 
crime. Nevertheless, there is sufficient evidence to show that both General 
Vides Casanova and Colonel Casanova Vejar knew that members of the National 
Guard had murdered the churchwomen, and that their efforts to impede the 
gathering of evidence adversely affected the judicial investigation. 

Cooperation with the Commission on the Truth 

On several occasions from October 1992 onwards, the judge of the First 
Criminal Court of Zacatecoluca, Mr. Pleitus Lemus, refused to cooperate with the 
Commission on the Truth and to provide the evidence and the full court dossiers 
of the case. He transmitted only a condensed version which does not include 
testimony and other critical evidence on the possible involvement of senior 
officers 166/ in the case. 


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It was only after much insisting that, on 8 January 1993, the Commission 
finally obtained all the dossiers of the case from the Supreme Court, barely a 
week before its mandate expired. 

FINDINGS 

The Commission on the Truth finds that: 

1. There is sufficient evidence that: 

(a) The arrest of the churchwomen at the airport was planned prior to 
their arrival. 

(b) In arresting and executing the four churchwomen. Deputy Sergeant 
Luis Antonio Colindres Aleman was acting on orders of a superior. 

2. There is substantial evidence that: 

(a) Then Colonel Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, Director-General of the 
National Guard, Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Edgardo Casanova Vejar, Commander of 
the Zacatecoluca military detachment. Colonel Roberto Monterrosa, 

Major Lizandro Zepeda Velasco and Sergeant Dagoberto Martinez, among other 
officers, knew that members of the National Guard had committed the murders and, 
through their actions, facilitated the cover-up of the facts which obstructed 
the corresponding judicial investigation. 

(b) The Minister of Defence at the time. General Jose Guillermo Garcia, 
made no serious effort to conduct a thorough investigation of responsibility for 
the murders of the churchwomen. 

(c) Local commissioner Jose Dolores Melendez also knew of the murders and 
covered up for the members of the security forces who committed them. 

3. The State of El Salvador failed in its obligation under international 
human rights law to investigate the case, to bring to trial those responsible 
for ordering and carrying out the executions and, lastly, to compensate the 
victims' relatives. 


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(d) EL JUNQUILLO 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 3 March 1981, a military operation took place in the north of the 
Department of Morazan. Units under Captain Carlos Napoleon Medina Garay arrived 
at El Junquillo and stayed there for 8 to 12 days. On leaving. 

Captain Medina Garay ordered the execution of the civilian population in 
El Junquillo canton. 

On 12 March 1981, soldiers and members of the Cacaopera civil defence unit 
attacked the population, consisting solely of women, young children and old 
people. They killed the inhabitants and raped a number of women and little 
girls under the age of 12. They set fire to houses, cornfields and barns. 

The Commission finds that: 

1. On 12 March 1981, units of the Military Detachment at Sonsonate and 
members of the civil defence unit at Cacaopera indiscriminately attacked and 
summarily executed men, women and children of El Junquillo canton in the 
district of Cacaopera, Department of Morazan. 

2. Captain Carlos Napoleon Medina Garay ordered the execution of the 
inhabitants of El Junquillo canton. 

3. Colonel Alejandro Cisneros, the military commander in charge of the 
operation carried out in March 1981 in northern Morazan, involving units from 
Military Detachment No. 6 at Sonsonate under the command of 

Captain Medina Garay, failed in his duty to investigate whether troops under his 
command had executed members of the civilian population of El Junquillo canton. 

4 . The Government and the judiciary of El Salvador failed to conduct 
investigations into the incident. The State thus failed in its duty under 
international human rights law to investigate, bring to trial and punish those 
responsible and to compensate the victims or their families. 

5. The Minister of Defence and Public Security, General 

Rene Emilio Ponce, is responsible for failing to provide this Commission with 
information on the military operation carried out in the area of El Junquillo 
canton, thereby failing to honour the obligation to cooperate with the 
Commission on the Truth entered into by the Government when it signed the peace 
agreements, and thus for preventing the identification of other soldiers who 
took part in the massacre. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 167 / 

The massacre 


On 3 March 1981, a military operation was launched in northern Morazan, 
with Colonel Alejandro Cisneros in charge. In the course of the operation, 
soldiers from the Military Detachment at Sonsonate, under the command of 
Captain Carlos Napoleon Medina Garay, went to El Junquillo. 


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The unit set up camp in the El Junquillo area, where it remained for 8 to 
12 days. According to the testimony received, as the unit was preparing to 
withdraw to a different location. Captain Medina Garay ordered another officer 
to do the job they had agreed on before leaving the hamlet. 

On the night of 11 March 1981, soldiers occupied the hills near 
El Junquillo canton. The next day, they shelled the canton for 15 minutes. 

After the shelling, soldiers entered the canton in large numbers and closed in 
on the houses. 

According to the testimony, soldiers and civil defence members proceeded to 
kill the following persons: Francisca Diaz, her daughters Juana and 

Santana Diaz, and nine children all under the age of 10; Guillerma Diaz, her 
13-year-old daughter Maria Santos Diaz, and five children under the age of 12; 
Doroteo Chicas Diaz, his wife and his one-day-old son, and seven children under 
the age of 10; Eulalio Chicas, his wife and his three sons; Rosa Ottilia Diaz, 
her daughter-in-law Maria Argentina Chicas Chicas, and the children who were 
present; Santos Majin Chicas, his wife and his daughters Lencha aged 12 and 
Gertrudis aged 9; Transito Chicas, aged 58, and Filomena Chicas, aged 68; 

Luciano Argueta, his wife Ufemia Sanchez, and two sons, under the age of seven; 
Leopoldo Chicas, an 80-year-old man, and Esteban and Vicente Argueta, both aged 
over 70; and Petronila and two of her sons, under the age of 11. Some of the 
victims were shot in the back of the head; some of the children's bodies had 
knife wounds in the chest and bullet holes in the back of the head. In some 
cases, the bodies had been burned. According to testimony, some of the women 
and little girls had been raped. 

The soldiers and civil defence members set fire to the houses in the hamlet 
and to cornfields and barns. They stole some of the corn which the farmers had 
stored and killed a number of animals. 

The survivors fled. The next day, a peasant returned to see what had 
happened. In the house of Doroteo Chicas, he saw the dead bodies of the Chicas 
children. The soldiers noticed he was there and shot at him several times. He 
fled to the hills to hide. One survivor of the massacre returned to the canton 
to try to bury the victims. As the soldiers were still occupying the canton, he 
went back into hiding. 

The survivors stayed in hiding in the hills for several days. One of them 
found the remains of a number of people. The survivors dug several mass graves 
where they buried the remains. 

One survivor went to a guerrilla camp at La Guacamaya, where he recounted 
the episode to a priest, who took care of him. 

Total absence of official investigations 

When it heard about the survivors' reports, FMLN condemned the massacre on 
Radio Venceremos and in various statements and press releases. 

Despite these public complaints, the Government, the armed forces and the 
judiciary of El Salvador made no attempt to investigate the incident. 


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FINDINGS 

The Commission finds that: 

1. There is substantial evidence that on 12 March 1981, units of the 
Military Detachment at Sonsonate and members of the civil defence unit at 
Cacaopera indiscriminately attacked and summarily executed men, women and 
children of El Junquillo canton in the district of Cacaopera, Department of 
Morazan . 

2. There is sufficient evidence to show that Captain 

Carlos Napoleon Medina Garay ordered the execution of the inhabitants of 
El Junquillo canton. 

3. There is sufficient evidence to show that Colonel Alejandro Cisneros, 
the military commander in charge of the operation carried out in March 1981 in 
northern Morazan, involving units from Military Detachment No. 6 at Sonsonate 
under the command of Captain Medina Garay, failed in his duty to investigate 
whether troops under his command had executed members of the civilian population 
of El Junquillo canton. 

4. There is full evidence that the Government, the armed forces and the 
judiciary of El Salvador failed to conduct investigations into the incident. 

The State thus failed in its duty under international human rights law to 
investigate, bring to trial and punish those responsible and to compensate the 
victims or their families. 

5. The Minister of Defence and Public Security, General 

Rene Emilio Ponce, is responsible for failing to provide this Commission with 
information on the military operation carried out in the area of El Junquillo 
canton, thereby failing to honour the obligation to cooperate with the 
Commission on the Truth entered into by the Government when it signed the peace 
agreements, and thus far preventing the identification of other soldiers who 
took part in the massacre. 


(e) THE DUTCH JOURNALISTS 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On the afternoon of 17 March 1982, four Dutch journalists accompanied by 
five or six members of FMLN, some of them armed, were ambushed by a patrol of 
the Atonal Battalion of the Salvadorian armed forces while on their way to 
territory under FMLN control. The incident occurred not far from the 
San Salvador-Chalatenango road, near the turn-off to Santa Rita. The four 
journalists were killed in the ambush and only one member of FMLN survived. 
Having analysed the evidence available, the Commission on the Truth has reached 
the conclusion that the ambush was set up deliberately to surprise and kill the 
journalists and their escort; that the decision to ambush them was taken by 
Colonel Mario A. Reyes Mena, Commander of the Fourth Infantry Brigade, with the 
knowledge of other officers; that no major skirmish preceded or coincided with 
the shoot-out in which the journalists were killed; and, lastly, that the 


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officer named above and other soldiers concealed the truth and obstructed the 
judicial investigation. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 


The days before the ambush 

A large number of foreign journalists were in El Salvador to cover the 1982 
elections to the Constituent Assembly. The political situation in the country 
had aroused the interest of world public opinion. 168 / 

At that time, violence in the country was widespread. A number of 
journalists had received threats, presumably from death squads, and there had 
been accusations that their reporting favoured the guerrillas. 


In March 1982, Koos Jacobus Andries Koster, a Dutch journalist, was in 
El Salvador making a report on the political and military situation in the 
country for the Dutch television company IKON. 169 / Producer and editor 
Jan Cornelius Kuiper Joop, sound technician Hans Lodewijk ter Laag and cameraman 
Johannes Jan Willemsen, all of them Dutch nationals, had come from Holland 
especially to make the report. 


The team was headed by Koster, who was familiar with the political 
situation in the country, spoke Spanish and had the necessary contacts, since he 
had been working in Latin America for years. 170 / 


In 1980, Koster had produced a report on the civil defence units and the 
death squads which had had a great impact abroad. The Government had considered 
the report to be favourable to FMLN. 


This latest report was to cover the situation in San Salvador and in a 
number of areas under FMLN control. According to diplomatic sources, it was 
"public knowledge" that the Dutch journalists were producing a report favourable 
to the guerrillas, similar to that of 1980. 


On 7 March, as part of their work, the journalists visited Mariona prison 
in San Salvador to interview and film prisoners accused of belonging to the 
guerrilla forces. During a cultural event at the prison, one of the leaders 
thanked the journalists for their support for political prisoners in 
El Salvador. The videos filmed by the journalists included shots of prisoners' 
scars, which the prisoners said were the result of torture. 171 / 

In order to make preliminary contact with FMLN, Koster met with an FMLN 
member. Koster gave the man a piece of paper with his name, nationality and 
where he could be reached. After the meeting, the guerrilla member was followed 
by several men. While attempting to escape over a fence, he apparently dropped 
his papers, where he had put the piece of paper for safe keeping. 


According to a statement made by Francisco Antonio Moran, Director-General 
of the Treasury Police, around that time Moran received a report from the 
Commander of the Military Detachment at Usulutan 172 / that a piece of paper had 
been found in the clothing of a dead subversive 173 / which read: "Contact with 
Koos Koster at Hotel Alameda, room 418, tel. 239999, Dutch". As a result. 


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Colonel Moran gave orders that Roster be brought to Treasury Police headquarters 
for questioning. 174 / 

At around 6 a.m. on 11 March 1982, members of the Treasury Police in 
civilian clothing brought Roster and the three other journalists to 
Colonel Moran's office. 175 / Colonel Moran asked Roster about the piece of 
paper. Roster denied knowing any terrorists in the country and explained that 
the information about him might have been provided by another journalist. 176 / 
Before releasing the journalists, 177 / Colonel Moran warned Roster to be careful 
because subversive elements knew that he was in the country. 178 / 

The next day, 12 March, photographs of Roster and the three other 
journalists appeared in the newspaper, together with a press release from the 
Armed Forces Press Committee (COPREFA) containing a transcript of the 
interrogation. The article was headlined "Foreign journalist a contact for 
subversives" and the caption to Roster's photograph said that he had been 
summoned to make a statement to the Treasury Police because some of his personal 
papers had been found on terrorist Jorge Luis Mendez, along with a piece of 
paper identifying him as a "contact". 179 / 

That same day, Dutch journalist Jan Pierre Lucien Schmeitz, who also worked 
for the company IRON, arrived in the country to cover the elections. 

Journalists of other nationalities told him that Roster had been arrested and 
taken to Treasury Police headquarters, accompanied by the three other Dutch 
journalists . 

On the night of 12 March, the four journalists met with Schmeitz. 
Remembering what El Salvador had been like in 1977, Schmeitz advised them to be 
very careful of the possible consequences of the interrogation by Colonel Moran. 
In spite of everything, they decided to go on with their work. 180 / Roster's 
FMLN contacts also urged him to leave the country for a while, but he 
consistently refused to postpone the journey he wanted to make for his report. 

On Monday, 15 March, 181 / Schmeitz lent them his minibus but did not offer 
to drive it. On Tuesday, 16 March, Armin Friedrich Wertz, an independent 
journalist of German nationality, agreed to act as driver for a fee of $100. 

That same day. Roster held a further meeting with members of FMLN, at which it 
was agreed that they would leave the next day, 17 March. Also present at the 
meeting, in addition to Roster's previous contacts, was "Commander Oscar", a 
member of the FDR/FMLN command in Chalatenango, who was to travel with them and 
could act as interpreter because he knew English. 

On the night of 16 March, the journalists discovered that their rooms had 
been searched. 

The journey to Chalatenango 

On the morning of Wednesday, 17 March, they picked up Schmeitz' s minibus, 
which had the words "PRENSA-TV" painted in large letters on the sides, as was 
customary in El Salvador. In the afternoon, the four journalists met up with 
Wertz and went to a restaurant car park, where they met "Commander Oscar" of FPL 
(Fuerzas Populares de Liberacion) Forces. A boy named "Ruben", aged between 12 


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and 15, also arrived; he was the guide and the only one who knew where the 
meeting was to take place. 

At around 3 p.m., they set out from San Salvador for Chalatenango, passing 
through the town of Aguilares. 182 / 

A few kilometres before the El Paraiso barracks, Wertz noticed in the 
rear-view mirror that a dark brown Cherokee Chief jeep with tinted windows 
appeared to be following them. He slowed down, but the vehicle did not 
overtake; he then speeded up, but the vehicle stayed in sight. They continued 
on the Chalatenango road to about kilometre 65, where they took the turn-off to 
Santa Rita. About 1 kilometre before the turn-off, the Cherokee Chief 
disappeared from sight. 183 / 

They had driven nearly 1 kilometre on the side road when they saw a group 
of people. Immediately "Ruben" got out of the minibus and signalled to 
them. 184 / It was the contacts, who were waiting for them. 

According to Wertz, the four members of the escort party were waiting on a 
piece of ground below the level of the dirt road and behind a barbed wire fence. 
One of them was carrying an automatic rifle, probably an FAL, the second a 
pistol, and the third a rifle of some kind. The fourth man was unarmed. 
According to a statement given by "Martin", 185 / the man in charge of the escort 
who was armed with an M-l rifle, he went to meet the journalists with two other 
men, "Carlos", who had an M-16, and "Tello", who was carrying a 9-mm pistol. 

When they approached the vehicle, Wertz apparently agreed with "Martin" 
that he would return to pick up the group at 8 a.m. on Sunday, 21 March. 186 / 

The journalists unloaded their equipment and, at around 5.10 p.m., took a path 
leading into a hollow opposite a hill. 

Wertz says he then returned to San Salvador with the radio on high volume 
and neither saw soldiers nor heard shots during the journey. 187 / 

The ambush 


According to "Martin" he was given the order to go and meet the group on 
14 March 1982. He knew "Commander Oscar" and "Ruben". He also knew that the 
others were foreign journalists. He took seven men and left base camp at 4 p.m. 
the next day, 15 March. 188 / 

At around 5 a.m. on 17 March, the escort party reached a refuge 
2 kilometres from the meeting place. Two men went out to reconnoitre the area 
over a radius of 1 kilometre, but found nothing unusual. 

In their statements, "Martin" said that he had never had any problems on 
that route in the past, 189 / but Colonel Mario A. Reyes Mena said that the army 
had information that the route was being used to supply nearby guerrilla camps. 
During the trial, "Commander Miguel Castellanos", a former member of FMLN, said 
that the route was known to the army. 190 / 

When the escort arrived at the agreed place, the journalists put on their 
rucksacks, took the rest of their equipment and set off overland. 


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According to "Martin", the group was walking in a single file, at a 
distance of 4 metres apart. "Commander Oscar" led the way, followed by "Ruben", 
Martin was among the journalists, and "Carlos" brought up the rear with his 
M-16. 191 / They had gone about 250 metres when they came under heavy fire from 
M-16 rifles and M-60 machine-guns, coming from two hills about 100 metres away. 
Martin saw two of the journalists fall to the ground. They were hit by the 
first shots and never moved again. 192 / He headed towards the road, dodging the 
soldiers' fire, climbed over the barbed wire fence and escaped. 193 / 

Most of "Martin"' s account was confirmed by the statement made by 
Sergeant Mario Canizales Espinoza, who was in command of the military patrol 
that staged the ambush. 194 / The sergeant also said that he noticed that some 
members of the group were carrying equipment and were taller than the average 
Salvadorian; at the time, however, it did not occur to him that they might be 
foreigners and he assumed that they were armed. He added that, towards the end 
of the shoot-out, he noticed that two of the tall men were attempting to escape 
towards the river-bed. He came down the hill in pursuit of them and shot and 
killed them with his M-16 from a distance of about 25 metres. In his 
statements, he said he did not know for certain whether the men had been 
armed. 195 / 

The statements by the sergeant and the soldiers differ in some respects 
from those made by "Martin", as well as among themselves. They claim that the 
first shots were fired from a hill by FMLN guerrillas and that the shoot-out 
with the group of journalists and their escorts was part of a larger skirmish 
involving a second group of FMLN combatants. As indicated below, these 
statements do not appear to be true. 

Origin of the patrol 

According to the statements by Sergeant Mario Canizales Espinoza, the 
patrol he was commanding consisted of 25 soldiers and had been sent to inspect 
the area because information had been received that it was being used as a 

supply route for the guerrillas. According to the sergeant, his men had set the 

ambush because, just before the encounter, they had seen a small group of armed 
guerrillas heading towards the Santa Rita road and had decided to surprise them 
on their return. He denies having any prior knowledge that a particular group 
would be using that route or that it would include foreign journalists. 196 / 

This version of events is essentially the same as the one which 
subsequently appeared in the press release issued by the Armed Forces Press 
Committee (COPREFA) . 

However, according to statements made to the Commission on the Truth by 
officers stationed at the El Paraiso barracks at the time, a meeting was held in 

which officers of the General Staff of the Fourth Brigade, including its 

Commander, Colonel Mario A. Reyes Mena, and officers of the Atonal Rapid 
Deployment Infantry Battalion (BIRI) took part. According to those interviewed, 
the ambush was planned at that meeting, on the basis of precise intelligence 
data indicating that the journalists would try to enter the zone controlled by 
FMLN via that route the next day. 197 / The mission was entrusted to a patrol 
from the Atonal Battalion, which left the El Paraiso barracks at 5 a.m. on 


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17 March in order to avoid detection and remained in the hills all day awaiting 
the group's arrival. 

Subsequent events 

Sergeant Canizales says that, when the ambush was over, he informed 
barracks by radio of the outcome. 198 / Colonel Reyes Mena 199 / then dispatched 
a vehicle patrol which, when it arrived at the scene, found the eight 
bodies. 200 / The lieutenant in command sent some of his men for the Santa Rita 
justice of the peace, who arrived half an hour later. 

According to one officer of the detachment, the lieutenant's decision to 
notify the justice of the peace and take the bodies to the El Paralso barracks 
surprised and greatly annoyed Colonel Reyes Mena. In the end, however. 

Colonel Reyes Mena decided to inform the General Staff. 

The next morning, 18 March, the judicial inquiry continued at the 
El Paralso barracks. 201 / Because of his physical features, "Commander Oscar" 
was taken for a foreigner and his body was sent with those of the Dutch 
journalists to San Salvador. 

According to Schmeitz, at around 9 a.m. he received a telephone call from 
Howard Lane, press attache at the United States Embassy in El Salvador, 
confirming that his four colleagues were dead. 202 / He later went to COPREFA, 
where an official handed out a statement explaining briefly that the journalists 
had been killed in cross-fire during a clash between guerrillas and the 
army. 203 / 


When Schmeitz was back in his hotel room, he received a threatening phone 
call telling him to "stop his inquiries and leave the country, because there was 
a fifth coffin ready for him" . He received three more such calls in the course 
of that night. On 20 March, Schmeitz left El Salvador. 

In the days that followed, the Dutch Ambassador met with a member of the 
Revolutionary Government Junta to transmit his country' s request to the 
Salvadorian authorities that it be allowed to conduct a full investigation into 
the incident. One key element would be to interview the sergeant and soldiers 
who staged the ambush, but the Salvadorian Government would not give 
authorization for this. In its second report, the Dutch Commission of inquiry 
noted that "at the request of the Government of the Netherlands, the United 
States Government endorsed this request to the Salvadorian authorities". 204 / 

"Martin", the guerrilla who survived the ambush, was taken to Holland, 
where he testified on 4 and 5 May 1982. Subsequently, on 19 May, the Dutch 
commission interviewed the sergeant at length in private. 205 / 

The judicial proceedings on the case came to a halt in 1988, when the 
judge, Dora del Carmen Gomez de Claros, sought and obtained asylum abroad. In a 
letter, she said that she had received anonymous threats. 

The Commission requested a copy of the dossier from 
Margarita de los Angeles Fuente Sanabria, the current judge of the Court of 
First Instance at El Dulce Nombre de Maria, Chalatenango . Although initially 


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prepared to hand over the dossier, she later said that she had received 
instructions that the Commission should apply to the President of the Supreme 
Court of Justice for a copy. The Commission repeatedly telephoned and wrote to 
Mr. Mauricio Gutierrez Castro, President of the Supreme Court of El Salvador, 
requesting a copy, but received no answer. It was the Chief State Counsel of 
the Republic who transmitted a copy of his dossier to the Commission. 

FINDINGS 

1. The Commission on the Truth considers that there is full evidence that 
Dutch journalists Koos Jacobus Andries Roster, Jan Cornelius Kuiper Joop, 

Hans Lodewijk ter Laag and Johannes Jan Willemsen were killed on 17 March 1982 
in an ambush which was planned in advance by the Commander of the Fourth 
Infantry Brigade, Colonel Mario A. Reyes Mena, with the knowledge of other 
officers at the El Paraiso barracks, on the basis of intelligence data alerting 
them to the journalists' presence, and was carried out by a patrol of soldiers 
from the Atonal BIRI, under the command of Sergeant Mario Canizales Espinoza. 

2. These same officers, the sergeant and others subsequently covered up 
the truth and obstructed the investigations carried out by the judiciary and 
other competent authorities. 

3. These murders violated international human rights law and 
international humanitarian law, which stipulates that civilians shall not be the 
object of attack. 

4. The State failed in its obligation to investigate, bring to trial and 
punish the guilty parties, as required under international law. 

5. The President of the Supreme Court, Mr. Mauricio Gutierrez Castro, 
failed to cooperate with the Commission on the Truth. 


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(f) LAS HOJAS 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 22 February 1983, members of the Jaguar Battalion, under the command of 
Captain Carlos Alfonso Figueroa Morales, participated in an operation in 
Las Hojas canton, San Antonio del Monte Municipality, Department of Sonsonate. 
Soldiers arrested 16 peasants, took them to the Cuyuapa river and shot and 
killed them at point-blank range. 

The accused have consistently maintained that this was a clash with 
terrorists. An investigation by the Ministry of Defence concluded that no 
members of the armed forces were responsible for the incident. 

The judicial proceedings were dismissed by the Supreme Court of Justice 
under the 1987 Amnesty Act. In 1992, the Inter-American Commission on Human 
Rights accused the Government of El Salvador of failing in its duty to 
investigate and punish those responsible for violations of the American 
Convention on Human Rights. 

On the basis of various degrees of evidence, the Commission finds the 
following : 

1. Colonel Elmer Gonzalez Araujo, then Commander of Military Detachment 
No. 6 at Sonsonate, Major Oscar Leon Linares and Captain 

Carlos Alfonso Figueroa Morales (deceased) planned the operation in Las Hojas 
canton for the purpose of arresting and eliminating alleged subversives. 

2. The orders of execution were transmitted to the actual perpetrators by 
then Second Lieutenants Carlos Sasso Landaverry and Francisco del Cid Diaz. 

3. Colonel Gonzales Araujo, Major Leon Linares and 

Captain Carlos Alfonso Figueroa Morales learnt immediately of the massacre, but 
covered it up. 

4 . Colonel Napoleon Alvarado, who conducted the Ministry of Defence 
investigation, also covered up the massacre and obstructed the judicial 
investigation . 

5. The Commission on the Truth recommends that the Government of 
El Salvador comply fully with the resolution of the Inter-American Commission on 
Human Rights in this case. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 206 / 

The massacre 

In the early morning of 22 February 1983, 

Captain Carlos Alfonso Figueroa Morales, commanding the Jaguar Battalion based 
in Military Detachment No. 6 at Sonsonate, mobilized three units from there 
belonging to the first company. One unit was under the command of Second 
Lieutenant Carlos Sasso Landaverry, one under the command of Second Lieutenant 


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Cadet Francisco del Cid Diaz and the third under the command of 
Sergeant Jose Reyes Perez Ponce. 207 / 

At about 6 a.m., a unit entered the Las Hojas cooperative of the Asociacion 
Nacional de Indigenas (ANIS) . With the help of members of the local civil 
defence unit, who had scarves tied around their faces to conceal their 
identities, they arrested seven members of the cooperative. The soldiers had a 
list of alleged subversives and several members of the civil defence unit 
pointed out the people whose names were on the list. They were dragged from 
their houses, beaten and bound, then taken from the cooperative along the road 
towards the Cuyuapa river. 

The members of the cooperative arrested were Gerardo Cruz Sandoval 
(34 years) , 208 / Jose Guido Garcia (21 years) , 209 / Benito Perez Zetino 
(35 years), 210 / Pedro Perez Zetino (24 years), 211 / Marcelino Sanchez Viscarra 
(80 years), 212 / Juan Bautista Martir Perez (75 years) 213 / and 
Hector Manuel Marquez (60 years) . 214 / 

Another unit of about 40 soldiers entered the San Antonio farm in Agua 
Santa canton, near the Las Hojas cooperative, arrested a number of people and 
took them also towards the Cuyuapa river. 215 / The people arrested there 
included Antonio Mejia Alvarado, 216 / Romelio Mejia Alvarado, 217 / 

Lorenzo Mejia Carabante, 218 / Ricardo Garcia Elena (19 years), 219 / 

Francisco Aleman Mejia (36 years), 220 / Leonardo Lopez Morales (22 years), 221 / 
Alfredo Ayala 222 / and Martin Mejia Castillo. 223 / 

When the leader of ANIS, Adrian Esquino, was informed of the arrest of the 
members of the cooperative, he went immediately, at 7 a.m., to speak to 
Colonel Elmer Gonzalez Araujo, 224 / Commander of Military Detachment No. 6 at 
Sonsonate. Colonel Gonzalez Araujo told him he knew nothing about the arrest of 
the members of the ANIS cooperative, but that he knew that a number of 
subversives with the surname Mejia had been captured. 

Later that morning, a group of ANIS members found 16 bodies on the banks of 
the Cuyuapa river; there were marks that showed that their hands had been tied, 
their faces were disfigured by bullets and they had all been shot at point-blank 
range in the forehead or behind the ear. 

That same day, 22 February, Roberto Rogelio Magana, the justice of the 
peace and experts examined the bodies. Alfredo Ayala's body still had "... his 
arms and forearms behind his back with the thumbs tied together with a piece of 
string . . . " . 225 / The other victims also showed signs of having had their 
thumbs tied together and had been riddled with bullets at point-blank range. 

The official version 


The operation was discussed and decided upon the previous day by 
Colonel Gonzalez Araujo, Major Oscar Leon Linares, the commanding officer of the 
Battalion, and Captain Figueroa Morales, the Chief of S-2 . According to their 
version, they were informed of the presence of subversives and the purpose of 
the operation was to search the area. 


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Later, Captain Figueroa Morales said that during the operation he heard 
shots coming from up ahead. 226 / When he arrived at the Cuyuapa river, the two 
Second Lieutenants informed him that there had been a clash with guerrillas. 

They found a number of bodies there, but none of them were bound. 227 / 

Although in several depositions soldiers alleged that there had been a 
clash with guerrillas, none of them admitted to having witnessed such a clash 
and all of them said that they had only heard it. 

After the clash. Captain Figueroa Morales made a report to Colonel 
Gonzalez Araujo. 228 / Major Leon Linares also received reports on arriving at 
the Detachment at about 8 a.m. 

The investigations 

Three investigations followed. President Magana ordered the newly 
established governmental Human Rights Commission to investigate the case. Thus, 
before the case went to the Attorney General's Office, family members were 
interviewed and a first account of the incident was drawn up. 

The Minister of Defence, General Jose Guillermo Garcia Merino, entrusted 
Colonel Napoleon Alvarado with investigating the case. Statements were taken 
from several witnesses as part of the investigation, but not from the two Second 
Lieutenants, Cid Diaz and Sasso Landaverry, who were in Morazan. 229 / According 
to the testimony of Captain Figueroa Morales, it was they who had headed the 
unit which took part in the alleged clash. 

In April 1983, Colonal Alvarado determined that no proof had been found of 
the guilt of any member of the armed forces and that the deaths had occurred in 
a clash. He also expressed the view that the investigation by the Human Rights 
Commission had been biased. He added that the case had been politicized by 
enemies of the armed forces and that "... the armed forces cannot take any 
responsibility for what may happen to Mr. Adrian Esquino Lisco, since he ... it 
would appear, is protecting guerrilla elements within the association he 
heads " . 230 / 

The judicial investigation followed a different course. In March 1984, on 
the basis of a recommendation by the Office of the Attorney General, 231 / the 
preventive detention of seven civil defence members and other members of the 
military escort was ordered, but the order did not extend to soldiers. 232 / 
However, in December 1984, the judge of Sonsonate First Criminal Court ordered a 
stay of proceedings and in July 1985, the criminal court approved the case's 
dismissal. It also determined that the law on complicity could not be applied 
to civil defence members without any proof as to the main perpetrators. It had 
been established only that the escorts had assisted the army in the arrest. 
However, the court did not indicate who the immediate perpetrators were. 233 / 

As to the dismissal of the case against Captain Figueroa Morales and 
Major Leon Linares, the court affirmed that there was not enough evidence to 
bring charges against them. 234 / 

In July 1986, through the intervention of the United States Embassy and 
with new evidence that soldiers had been involved, criminal proceedings were 


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reopened against a number of defendants, including Colonel Gonzalez Araujo, 

Major Leon Linares and Captain Figueroa Morales. 235 / 

In March 1987, however, the judge of the Court of First Instance again 
dismissed the case; 236 / in august, the appeal court revoked his decision and 
ordered the case brought to trial. 237 / 

Colonel Gonzalez Araujo then filed a remedy of habeas corpus with the 
Supreme Court, when it was not yet certain that the National Assembly would 
approve the Amnesty Act (27 October 1987) . 238 / In July 1988, the Supreme Court 
held that the Amnesty Act should apply to the Las Hojas case, and dismissed the 
case against all the defendants. 239 / 

Resolution of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the 

application of the 1987 Amnesty Act in the Las Hojas case 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received a petition in 
1989 240 / denouncing the application of the 1987 Amnesty Act as a violation of 
the obligation of the Government of El Salvador to investigate and punish the 
violations of the rights of the Las Hojas victims and to make reparation for the 
injury caused. 241 / On 24 September 1992, the Commission issued a resolution in 
which it determined that the amnesty decree adopted after the order to arrest 
officers of the armed forces had legally foreclosed the possibility of an 
effective investigation, the prosecution of the culprits and appropriate 
compensation for the victims. 242 / 

The Commission stated that the Government of El Salvador had failed in its 
obligation to guarantee the free and full exercise of human rights and 
fundamental guarantees for all persons under its jurisdiction. 243 / It further 
recommended that the Government of El Salvador should: (1) conduct an 

exhaustive, rapid, complete and impartial investigation of the facts in order to 
identify all the victims and the culprits and bring the latter to justice; 

(2) take the necessary steps to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in 
future; (3) make reparation for the consequences of the situation and pay fair 
compensation to the victims' families. 244 / 

The Commission gave the Government of El Salvador three months in which to 
implement its recommendations, i.e., up to 24 December 1992. So far, no action 
has been taken to comply with the Commission's recommendations. 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is substantial evidence that Colonel Elmer Gonzalez Araujo, then 
Commander of Military Detachment No. 6 at Sonsonate, Major Oscar Leon Linares 
and Captain Figueroa Morales (deceased) planned the operation in Las Hojas 
canton for the purpose of arresting and eliminating alleged subversives. 

2. There is full evidence that Captain Figueroa Morales, as captain of 
the Jaguar Battalion, was in command of the operation. Also, that during the 
operation, 16 peasants were arrested, bound and summarily executed, and that 
there was no clash with guerrillas. 


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3. There is substantial evidence that the orders of execution were 
transmitted to the actual perpetrators by then Second Lieutenants 
Carlos Sasso Landaverry and Francisco del Cid Diaz. 

4. There is substantial evidence that Colonel Gonzalez Araujo, 

Major Leon Linares and Captain Figueroa Morales, learnt immediately of the 
massacre but covered it up. 

5. There is sufficient evidence that Colonel Napoleon Alvarado, who 
conducted the Ministry of Defence investigation, also covered up the massacre 
and later obstructed the judicial investigation. 

6. The Commission on the Truth recommends that the Government of 

El Salvador comply fully with the resolution of the Inter-American Commission on 
Human Rights in this case. 


(g) SAN SEBASTIAN 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 21 September 1988, members of the Jiboa Battalion detained 10 people in 
San Francisco canton in the district of San Sebastian. That same morning. 

Major Mauricio Jesus Beltran Granados, chief of the Intelligence Department of 
the Fifth Brigade, under orders from Colonel Jose Emilio Chavez Caceres, Chief 
of the Fifth Brigade, arrived at San Francisco canton. After interrogating 
several of the detainees, he ordered all 10 of them executed and the staging of 
a fictitious ambush. 

In March 1989, an Honour Commission of the armed forces conducted an 
investigation in which members of the Jiboa Battalion said that Major 
Beltran Granados had ordered them to execute the detainees and cover up the 
incident. Beltran Granados, another officer and other non-commissioned officers 
and soldiers were brought before the judge, who ordered their detention. They 
were then released, except for Beltran who is awaiting judgement. 

The Commission on the Truth finds the following: 

1. Colonel Jose Emilio Chavez Caceres gave the order to execute the 
detainees . 

2. Major Mauricio de Jesus Beltran Granados ordered members of the Jiboa 
Battalion to execute the 10 detained peasants. 

3. Colonel Jose Emilio Chavez Caceres covered up the execution of the 

10 detainees and Major Mauricio de Jesus Beltran Granados took steps to cover up 
the execution. 

4 . Second Lieutenant Arnoldo Antonio Vasquez Alvarenga transmitted 
Major Beltran's order to designate some soldiers to finish off the victims and 
also provided the necessary materials to activate the mines which seriously 
wounded them. 


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5. Sergeant Jorge Alberto Tobar Guzman activated the mechanism that 
detonated the mines, knowing that they would explode in the place where the 
detained peasants were. 

6. Deputy Sergeant Rafael Rosales Villalobos and soldiers 

Fermin Cruz Castro, Jose Carlos Hernandez Matute, Jose Alfredo Mendez Beltran 
and Francisco Ponce Ramirez shot and killed the detainees. 

7. Colonel Luis Mariano Turcios and Lieutenant Colonel 

Jose Antonio Rodriguez Molina knew about the order to execute the detainees and 
did nothing to prevent their execution. 

8. The Honour Commission of the armed forces, the Commission for the 
Investigation of Criminal Acts and the judge of the Criminal Court of First 
Instance of the city of San Sebastian failed to take steps to determine the 
responsibility of Colonel Jose Emilio Chavez Caceres, 

Colonel Luis Mariano Turcios and Lieutenant Colonel 
Jose Antonio Rodriguez Molina. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 245 / 

The executions 


On 20 September 1988, the second company of the Jiboa battalion of the 
Fifth Brigade arrived in the municipality of San Sebastian in the Department of 
San Vicente. Lieutenant Manuel de Jesus Galvez Galvez, commander of the unit, 
was informed that four men were involved in subversive activities. He ordered 
Second Lieutenant Arnoldo Antonio Vasquez Alvarenga to go to San Francisco 
canton and detain them. 

Second Lieutenant Vasquez Alvarenga detained one of these men that same 
night. The detainee took the soldiers to a place where they found subversive 
propaganda, explosive devices, rucksacks, wire and two M-16 rifles. 246 / 

Second Lieutenant Vasquez Alvarenga informed Lieutenant Galvez Galvez of 
the find. 247 / Captain Oscar Armando Pena Duran heard the information on the 
radio and transmitted it to the Fifth Brigade. Early next morning, over the 
Cerro Las Delicias radio relay station. Captain Pena Duran was ordered to 
"eliminate" the detainee. Captain Pena Duran said that his officers (Galvez and 
Vasquez) could not obey that order. He then informed Galvez Galvez of the 
order, and the latter also refused to carry it out. Galvez told him that if the 
order was repeated, the Brigade should be requested to give the order in 
writing . 

During the night. Second Lieutenant Vasquez Alvarenga continued to 
interrogate the detainee and the latter agreed to point out the house of the 
other three suspects. 248 / All of them were subsequently detained. 

The four detainees were taken to the village school. Second 
Lieutenant Vasquez received a message over the radio from Lieutenant Galvez 
informing him that he would come to San Francisco canton and telling him to 
assemble the residents of the canton in the school. 249/ 


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At 7.30 a.m. on 21 December, Lieutenant Galvez arrived and interrogated one 
of the detainees again. 250 / He again contacted Captain Pena and told him that 
he would not kill the detainees without a written order from the Commander of 
the Brigade. 251 / The Commander of the Fifth Brigade, and of the Fifth Military 
Zone, was Colonel Jose Emilio Chavez Caceres. Pena requested permission to go 
to the Brigade and explain the situation in San Francisco. Major 
Beltran Granados refused permission. 252 / He added that he would go to 
San Francisco canton with two interrogators. Pena Duran then contacted 
Galvez Galvez to inform him that Major Beltran was coming, and told him to make 
a report to him. 253 / 

On the morning of 21 September, under orders from Colonel Chavez Caceres, 
Major Beltran went to San Francisco canton. He arrived the same morning, with 
two other interrogators and his assistant. 

Captain Pena Duran, for his part, arrived at the Brigade 254 / at midday. 

He reported to Major Rodriguez, informing him of what had happened and of the 
order to eliminate the detainee. According to Captain Pena, Major Rodriguez 
said that the detainee should be taken to Brigade headquarters, in accordance 
with the procedure for normal operations. The two of them informed 
Lieutenant Colonel Turcios of the situation and of the order to eliminate the 
detainee. Pena then gave the same report to Colonel Chavez Caceres. According 
to Chavez Caceres, he told Pena that the detainee should be transferred to the 
Brigade. 255 / 

When Major Beltran Granados arrived in the canton, Galvez Galvez made a 
report to him. 256 / Beltran had three detainees brought out for interrogation. 
On his return from the interrogation. Major Beltran, who as intelligence officer 
was not in command of the unit, informed Lieutenant Galvez Galvez that they had 
to execute the detainees. Galvez Galvez replied that he would not obey that 
order and that he would hand over command of the unit that was carrying out the 
operation to Major Beltran. 257 / 

Beltran Granados told Galvez to order the detention of other persons, which 
he did. The total number of detainees increased to 10. 258 / Then, according to 
testimony. Major Beltran Granados gave the order to execute them by simulating a 
guerrilla ambush. 259 / 

Major Beltran Granados ordered Sergeant Tobar Guzman to look for a place 
down in the street in which to lay the confiscated mines to prepare an 
ambush. 260 / Tobar laid the mines and connected the wire to them. 261 / 

Second Lieutenant Vasquez ordered the soldiers to take the rest of the 
confiscated material to the site of the ambush. Second Lieutenant Vasquez told 
soldiers "Churute" (Fermin Cruz Castro) , Matute (Jose Carlos Hernandez Matute) 
and "Ciguanabo" (Jose Alfredo Mendez Beltran) that they would finish off any 
detainee who was left alive. 262 / 

The detainees' hands were tied behind their backs (except for the women) 
and they were blindfolded. At about 3 p.m., they were taken to the place where 
they were to be executed, on the road. Vasquez gave a battery to Tobar, who 
installed it and activated the mines. 263/ 


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Some soldiers shot off their weapons to simulate an ambush, as ordered by 
Major Beltran. 264 / The gunfire lasted five minutes. Since the detainees did 
not die as a result of the mines. Major Beltran ordered some soldiers to finish 
them off. One of them, Manuel de Jesus Herrera Rivera, refused to obey the 
order. Soldiers "Churute" (Fermin Cruz Castro), "Balazo" 

(Francisco Ponce Ramirez) and Matute (Jose Carlos Hernandez Matute) finished off 
the detainees. 265 / 

Major Beltran Granados ordered Deputy Sergeant Rosales Villalobos to shoot 
the detainees, and he did so. He also ordered a soldier to take the blindfolds 
off the bodies and ordered soldier Hernandez Alfaro to smear blood on the 
uniform of soldier Mendez Beltran ( "Ciguanabo" ) and put a dressing on him to 
make it look as if he had been wounded in combat. 

Major Beltran then ordered Lieutenant Galvez Galvez to inform the Brigade 
that terrorists had ambushed them and that eight detainees and two terrorists 
had been killed, and to request a helicopter to transport a wounded 
soldier. 266 / 

A helicopter arrived with a lawyer from Department 5 of the Brigade and a 
United States adviser. Beltran got into the helicopter with the allegedly 
wounded soldier and they went to Brigade headquarters. 

The cover-up and the official investigations 

The next day, the San Sebastian justice of the peace identified the 
murdered peasants and COPREFA reported that 10 subversives had died in a clash 
between troops of the Jiboa Battalion and guerrillas. On 23 September, COPREFA 
published the version that Colonel Chavez Caceres says he received from 
Major Beltran Granados. 

Officials from non-governmental human rights bodies (Legal Protection and 
the non-governmental Human Rights Commission) and journalists went to 
San Francisco canton on 22 September. A number of witnesses reported that the 
peasants had been murdered by the soldiers. In public statements. 

President Duarte refuted the accusations. 

General Blandon, Chief of Staff, communicated with Colonel Chavez Caceres 
on 23 September and told him that the version of the incident he had been given 
was untrue. 

On 24 September, Major Beltran Granados learnt that a soldier called Escoto 
had been wounded by guerrillas. He suggested to Escoto that he pretend to have 
been wounded at San Francisco on 21 September, so as to help them find a way out 
of the problem. Two days later, he presented him to the other members of the 
second section of the second company of the Jiboa Battalion and told them that 
they should say that Escoto had been at San Francisco on 21 September and that 
he had been wounded there. Escoto was then presented as having been at 
San Francisco that day. 267 / 

On the night of 26 September, Major Beltran Granados assembled the 
officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers who had been at San Francisco. 
He indicated the places where each of them had been when they left San Francisco 


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canton and said that was the version they should give. Later, there were other 
meetings to remind the soldiers what they had to say. 

On one occasion. Second Lieutenant Vasquez Alvarenga took the soldiers to 
San Francisco canton and placed each soldier in the position that had been 
indicated to him, so that each soldier would recognize his position and not 
forget what he had to say. 

On 27 and 28 September, members of the Commission for the Investigation of 
Criminal Acts interviewed Major Beltran, Lieutenant Galvez, Second 
Lieutenant Vasquez and the non-commissioned officers and soldiers. They all 
adhered to the cover-up version. 

Some days later, lawyers Paredes and Parker of the Ministry of Defence and 
of the General Staff, respectively, interrogated the personnel of the Fifth 
Brigade who had been in San Francisco canton. All of them kept to the version 
of an ambush. An investigator administered lie detector tests. The results 
showed that some people were giving "dubious" replies. The lawyers then drew up 
a report which Chavez Caceres sent to the General Staff and the Ministry of 
Defence . 

Nine days after the incident, a member of the Jiboa Battalion told 
Colonel Chavez Caceres that Major Beltran had ordered the execution of the 
detainees and that they had been murdered. On 5 October, the corpses were 
exhumed and the forensic analysis revealed that the peasants had died after 
being shot at close range and not during combat. 268 / 

On 29 October 1988, the Commander of the Fifth Brigade announced at a press 
conference that the detainees had died in an ambush and that the guerrillas had 
returned during the night and mutilated the bodies to make it look as if they 
had been executed at close range. 

Between 8 and 10 December 1988, investigators from the Commission for the 
Investigation of Criminal Acts again interrogated the officers, non-commissioned 
officers and soldiers. All of them kept to the cover-up version. 

On 3 February 1989, United States Vice-President Dan Quayle visited 
El Salvador and called for the punishment of those responsible for the 
San Sebastian massacre. He handed over a list of three officers who were 
implicated: Colonel Chavez Caceres, Major Beltran Granados and 

Second Lieutenant Vasquez Alvarenga. 

Some days later. Colonel Chavez Caceres left the Brigade and 
Lieutenant Colonel Turcios was put in command. The other officers were then 
relieved of their duties. Lieutenant Galvez Galvez was held at Treasury Police 
headquarters, along with Second Lieutenant Vasquez Alvarenga. 

In the course of February and March 1989, the military personnel who had 
been in San Francisco canton were questioned again. With the exception of 
Major Beltran Granados, all of them abandoned the version of an ambush and said 
that Major Beltran had ordered the execution and also the cover-up version of 
the incident. 


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The Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts identified 
Major Beltran Granados as having ordered the executions and 
Second Lieutenant Vasquez Alvarenga, Sergeant Tobar Guzman, 

Deputy Sergeant Rosales Villalobos, Corporal Ayala Arias and soldiers 

Cruz Castro, Hernandez Matute, Mendez Beltran and Ponce Ramirez as having been 

responsible for carrying them out. 269 / 

Colonel Chavez Caceres was not summonsed to make a statement or accused of 
or held responsible for any act or omission. 


The judicial proceedings 


The results of the investigations were sent to the judge of the Court of 
First Instance of San Sebastian on 11 March 1989. 270 / The judicial detention 
of nine people was ordered. 271 / In February 1990, the judge released all of 
them except Major Beltran 272 / and Deputy Sergeant Rosales Villalobos. 273 / 


In May 1990, the court of San Vicente confirmed the judgement ordering the 
detainees' release and revoked the decision to bring Deputy Sergeant 
Rafael Rosales Villalobos to trial. 274/ 


As of the date of drafting of this report. Major Beltran was still in 
prison awaiting the public hearing. 


FINDINGS 


The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is sufficient evidence that Colonel Jose Emilio Chavez Caceres 
gave the order to execute the detainees. 

2. There is full evidence that Major Mauricio de Jesus Beltran Granados 
ordered members of the Jiboa Battalion to execute the 10 detained peasants. 

3. There is substantial evidence that Colonel Jose Emilio Chavez Caceres 
covered up the execution of the 10 detainees, and full evidence that 

Major Mauricio de Jesus Beltran Granados took steps to cover up the execution. 

4 . There is substantial evidence that Second Lieutenant 
Arnoldo Antonio Vasquez Alvarenga transmitted the order from 

Major Beltran Granados to designate some soldiers to finish off the victims and 
sufficient evidence that he provided the necessary materials to activate the 
mines which seriously wounded the victims. 

5. There is substantial evidence that Sergeant Jorge Alberto Tobar Guzman 
activated the mechanism that detonated the mines, knowing that they would 
explode in the place where the detained peasants were. 

6. There is substantial evidence that Deputy Sergeant 
Rafael Rosales Villalobos and soldiers Fermin Cruz Castro, 

Jose Carlos Hernandez Matute, Jose Alfredo Mendez Beltran and 
Francisco Ponce Ramirez shot and killed the detainees. 


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7. There is sufficient evidence that Colonel Luis Mariano Turcios and 
Lieutenant Colonel Jose Antonio Rodriguez Molina knew about the order to execute 
the detainees and did nothing to prevent their execution. 

8. There is substantial evidence that the Honour Commission of the armed 
forces, the Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts and the judge of 
the Criminal Court of First Instance of the city of San Sebastian failed to take 
steps to determine the responsibility of Colonel Jose Emilio Chavez Caceres, 
Colonel Luis Mariano Turcios and Lieutenant 

Colonel Jose Antonio Rodriguez Molina. 


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(h) ATTACK ON AN FMLN HOSPITAL AND EXECUTION OF A NURSE 
SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 15 April 1989, air force units attacked an FMLN mobile hospital. 275 / 
Five of the 15 people in the hospital were killed: three Salvadorians - 

Juan Antonio (a patient), Clelia Concepcion Diaz (a literacy instructor) and 
Maria Cristina Hernandez (a nurse and radio operator) - and two foreigners: 

Jose Ignacio Isla Casares (an Argentine doctor) and 
Madeleine Marie Francine Lagadec (a French nurse) . 

A Salvadorian air force unit attacked the hospital. Members of that unit 
deliberately attacked the medical staff in violation of international 
humanitarian law and captured the French nurse Madeleine Lagadac alive and 
executed her. Since no autopsies were performed on the other persons killed, it 
was not possible to ascertain with the same degree of accuracy whether they too 
were executed. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 

The attack 


According to witnesses, at about 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. on 15 April 1989, two 
low-flying A-37 aircraft bombed the area surrounding an FMLN mobile hospital 
located near the Catarina farm in El Tortugal canton, San Ildefonso district. 
Department of San Vicente. Three UH 1M helicopter gunships, a Hughes-500 
helicopter and a "Push-Pull" light aeroplane took part in the attack. A few 
minutes later, six helicopters carrying paratroopers armed with M-16 rifles 
arrived on the scene. At 8.15 a.m., the helicopters dropped the troops near the 
hospital. The bombardment lasted 15 minutes. 

Fifteen people were in the hospital when the attack started. Most of them 
started to escape; one of the patients returned the attackers' fire before 
fleeing. Maria Cristina Hernandez, a nurse and radio operator, and 
Juan Antonio, one of the hospital's patients, were seriously injured in the 
attack . 

Madeleine Lagadec, a French nurse who had been working with FMLN for three 
years, refused to run away and stayed behind to attend to Maria Cristina. 

Jose Ignacio Isla Casares, the Argentine doctor in charge of the hospital, and 
Clelia Concepcion Diaz Salazar, the literacy instructor, also stayed behind. 

Those who escaped witnessed what happened next. The soldiers closed in and 
the radio operator for the group of paratroopers informed his commanding officer 
that "mercenaries" had been captured and requested instructions. The soldiers 
then questioned the three captives and screams were heard, the loudest being 
those of Madeleine Lagadec. Next, some shots rang out. The soldiers left that 
afternoon. 276 / 

There is substantial evidence that the operation was carried out by a group 
belonging to the "Special Operations" unit of the Salvadorian air force 
(paratroopers backed by artillery and aircraft fire) . They were part of 


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"Operacion Rayo", designed to destroy the logistical and command structure of 
the Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores Centroamericanos (PRTC) in the area. 

The investigation 

On 17 April, a COPREFA communique was published announcing that nine people 
had died in an army attack on a PRTC command post. It also reported that 
weapons and medical equipment had been seized. 277 / 

That same day, FMLN members found the bodies at the scene. According to 
two of them, only Madeleine Lagadec' s torso was clothed, her trousers had been 
pulled down to the knees, she did not have any underwear on under them 278 / and 
her left hand had been severed at the wrist. There were bullet holes in the 
skulls of the five bodies. 279 / 

The autopsy 

An autopsy was performed only on the French nurse, in France on 
2 May 1989. 280 / 

The autopsy found at least five gunshot wounds on Madeleine Lagadec. Two 
wounds - to the head and in the left shoulder blade region - were potentially 
lethal. The wounds were significant for the small calibre of the bullets used 
(between 5 and 6 mm) and their considerable destructive power, for which the 
only possible explanation is great velocity. No precise explanation was found 
for the amputation of the left hand. The French doctors said that the diversity 
of the trajectory of the projectiles made the theory of an execution highly 
unlikely. 281 / 

However, Dr. Robert Kirschner, 282 / who analysed the autopsy reports 
written in France and the sketches and documentation in the possession of this 
Commission, concluded that Madeleine Lagadec had been executed. 283 / 

In the analysis he made for the Commission, Dr. Kirschner, one of the 
world's foremost analysts of summary executions, explained that "The wounds and 
their trajectories provide significant evidence of the manner in which 
Madeleine Lagadec was killed. There were six gunshot wounds of the body, 
including three to the chest, one in the medial aspect of each thigh, and one to 
the head. All of these wounds passed from front to rear, upward, and in a 
medial to lateral direction . . . The pathologists who performed the autopsy were 
of the opinion that the diversity of the trajectory of the projectiles made it 
unlikely that this was an execution. I disagree with this conclusion. While 
the gunshot wounds to the chest might have occurred while the victim was 
standing, the wounds to the thighs almost certainly were inflicted while she was 
lying on the ground, and those of the chest are more consistent with having been 
inflicted while she was supine. Of special importance, the gunshot wound of the 
right temporal region of the head, which passed on a horizontal plane and exited 
from the left temporoparietal region of the scalp, was a characteristic coup de 
grace wound, and a trademark of the extrajudicial execution." 284 / 

Dr. Kirschner' s conclusion that Madeleine Lagadec was executed is also 
supported in a separate analysis made by experts in electronic microscopy in 
France. 285 / They first ascertained that the victim had been shot when already 


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half-naked: "(...) there are no traces of bullets on the brassiere, briefs and 

trousers, while there are gunshot wounds to the right breast, the pelvis and the 
lower limbs (...) It can be deduced that the victim was not wearing those three 
items of clothing when the shots were fired." 286 / 

As for the distance from which the shots were fired, the above Centre puts 
forward two theories that contradict the assertion that Madeleine Lagadec' s 
wounds were inflicted from a distance. 287 / 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is sufficient evidence that a unit of the Salvadorian air force 
attacked the field hospital, and substantial evidence that it deliberately 
attacked medical personnel in violation of international humanitarian law. 

2. There is substantial evidence that members of the unit captured the 
French nurse Madelaine Lagadec alive and executed her. 

3. The State of El Salvador failed in its responsibility to investigate 
the case, bring the culprits to trial and punish them. The Commission was 
unable to determine whether the other people were also executed, since no 
autopsies were performed on their bodies. 


(i) GARCIA ARANDIGOYEN 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 10 September 1990, Dr. Begona Garcia Arandigoyen was summarily executed 
in the Department of Santa Ana. The Spanish doctor, who was 24 years old, died 
in an alleged clash between a patrol of the 4th Company BIC PIPIL of the Second 
Infantry Brigade of the armed forces of El Salvador and a column of the Ejercito 
Revolucioniario del Pueblo (ERP) of FMLN . 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. Begona Garcia Arandigoyen was executed extra judicially by troops of 
the 4th Company BIC PIPIL of the Second Infantry Brigade, under immediate 
command of Lieutenant Roberto Salvador Hernandez Garcia and the overall command 
of Army Lieutenant Colonel Jose Antonio Almendariz, commanding officer of the 
Second Brigade. 

2. The above officers covered up the crime with the collaboration of the 
National Police Third Command, Santa Ana unit, and the experts and judicial 
authorities who took part in the examination of the corpse of Begona Garcia. 


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DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 288 / 
The death 


Dr. Begona Garcia Arandigoyen, a Spanish doctor, entered El Salvador in 
September 1989 to work as a doctor for FMLN. She was executed, following her 
arrest, on 10 September 1990 in the Department of Santa Ana by troops of the 
4th Company BIC PIPIL of the Second Infantry Brigade. 

According to the official version, a patrol which was conducting a search 
of the area to the south of the Santa Ana volcano, near the Montanita estate, 
clashed with FMLN troops at approximately 1 p.m. on 10 September on the 
La Graciela estate. 

According to a statement by Army Lieutenant Colonel 
Jose Antonio Almendariz Rivas, commanding officer and Chief of Staff of the 
Second Brigade, he was advised by radio when fire contact was made with the 
enemy and was later informed of the death of 10 guerrillas, including two women, 
one of whom was a foreigner. 289 / 

According to the official version, FMLN troops managed to retrieve the 
bodies of eight of the dead, and the troops of 4th Company BIC PIPIL found only 
the bodies of two women. One of them looked like a foreigner. 

At nightfall, other soldiers transferred the bodies of the two women from 
the place where the events had allegedly occurred to the main building of the 
Malacara estate, in Potrero Grande Arriba canton, Santa Ana district. 

On the morning of 11 September, Army Lieutenant Colonel 
Jose Antonio Almendariz Rivas, COPREFA staff and members of the National Police 
Third Command, Santa Ana unit, under the command of Lieutenant 

Gilberto Garcia Cisneros, arrived at the Malacara estate by helicopter. COPREFA 
staff photographed the bodies and, according to the official version, members of 
the Third Command performed paraffin tests to see whether the women had fired 
weapons. There was no judicial examination of the bodies. 290 / At the request 
of the military personnel, local residents proceeded to bury the bodies. 

The official examination of the corpse 

On 14 September, the corpses were exhumed and the body of Dr. Begona Garcia 
was examined by the forensic doctor on duty. Dr. Neftali Figueroa Juarez, in the 
presence of the judge of the First Criminal Court of the Santa Ana judicial 
district, Oscar Armando Aviles Magana. Those present included a representative 
of the Embassy of Spain and Lieutenant Colonel Almendariz Rivas. 

The examination report states that " [they] examined the corpse of 
BEGONA GARCIA ARANDIGOYEN, which has a destructive wound on the outer right-hand 
surface of the right forearm, with a total and displaced fracture, a destructive 
wound on the lateral surface of the right buttock and wounds on the outer 
surface of the right elbow and the left thigh. The corpse is rapidly 
decomposing, death having occurred at least four days ago, there is no evidence 
of tattooing, burns or powder marks around any of the above-mentioned wounds, 
from which it can be inferred that the wounds were inflicted from a distance. 


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The corpse was exhumed and the direct cause of death was hypovolemic shock 
resulting from multiple wounds." 291 / 

The autopsy in Spain 

After the corpse of Begona Garcia had been transferred to Spain, the 
Pathology Department of Navarra Government Hospital performed a clinical 
autopsy. That autopsy, and the report by Dr. Carlos Martin Beristain on the 
medical and forensic findings, 292 / established the following: 

1. The corpse had multiple wounds, especially to the head, neck and upper 
and lower extremities. 

2. There was a large wound on the left forearm, corresponding to a total 
fracture, which implied the use of a blunt instrument or the impact of a bullet. 

3. There were two round bullet entry holes, from 2.4 to 3 cm in diameter, 
above both elbow joints, although no exit holes could be detected, the wounds 
being very selective and occurring only on the extremities and symmetrically on 
the arms, without other wounds on the thorax which could have been caused by a 
line of fire. 

4 . The wounds on the arms and the left thigh could have been made by a 
sharp bayonet-type instrument, since they were too large in diameter to have 
been caused by a firearm without being accompanied by greater destruction, other 
exit holes or the presence of bullets in the flesh. 

5. An entry hole 1.8 cm in diameter in the lower central occipital 
region, the trajectory being upwards and forwards. 

6. A round hole 2.5 cm in diameter at the base of the neck, just above 
the sternal manubrium. 

7. Death must have occurred instantaneously as a result of the firearm 
wounds to the cranium, because of the destruction of vital nerve centres and not 
because of the bleeding which the wounds may have caused. 

Dr. Beristain' s report notes that a biochemical analysis detected the 
existence of a large quantity of powder around the edges of the neck wound 
(above the sternal manubrium) , confirming that the wound had been caused by a 
shot fired from a distance of a few centimetres. The bullet wounds in the 
occipital region and the sternal manubrium had similar characteristics and had 
been made from a distance of a few centimetres. 

The report further notes that when the corpse was officially examined in 
El Salvador, neither of the two head wounds which were made from a distance of a 
few centimetres (in the nape of the neck and in the region above the sternum) 
was recorded. 


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Report by the expert of the Commission on the Truth 

At the request of the Commission on the Truth, Dr. Robert H. Kirschner, a 
forensic pathologist, studied the examination made by Dr. Jose Neftali Figueroa 
on 14 September 1990 and the clinical autopsy report from Navarra Hospital. In 
the opinion of Dr. Kirschner, the Navarra autopsy directly contradicts the 
El Salvador examination and supports the contention that Begona Garcia was 
captured and executed. Dr. Kirschner notes that the Navarra autopsy report 
describes wounds which are inconsistent with those occurring in combat and 
typical of those caused by execution, including the wound at the base of the 
cranium, fired from a gun almost in contact with the nape of the neck, and 
another in the upper chest, caused by a shot fired from a distance of a few 
centimetres . 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is full evidence that Begona Garcia Arandigoyen was executed 
extra judicially, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and 
international human rights law, by units of the Second Infantry Brigade under 
the immediate command of Lieutenant Roberto Salvador Hernandez Garcia and the 
overall command of Army Lieutenant Colonel Jose Antonio Almendariz Rivas, 
commanding officer of the Second Brigade. 

2. There is full evidence that the above officers covered up the crime. 

3. There is full evidence of the responsibility of the judicial 
authorities, as shown by the actions of the judge of the First Criminal Court of 
the Santa Ana judicial district, Oscar Armando Aviles Magana, and of the 
forensic doctor on duty. Dr. Neftali Figueroa Juarez, who took part in the 
examination of the corpse of Begona Garcia and who omitted from the record the 
two gunshot wounds made at a distance of a few centimetres, thus failing in 
their duty to carry out a full and impartial investigation of the causes of her 
death . 


(j) FENASTRAS AND COMADRES 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

In the early morning of 31 October 1989, persons unknown placed a bomb at 
the entrance to the offices of the Comite de Madres y Familiares de Presos 
Politicos, Desaparecidos y Asesinados de El Salvador Monsenor 
Oscar Arnulfo Romero (COMADRES) in San Salvador. Four people, including a 
child, were injured. 

At midday, a bomb was placed in the offices of the Federacion Nacional 
Sindical de Trabajadores Salvadorenos (FENASTRAS) in San Salvador. Nine people 
were killed and over 40 injured. As a result of the attack, FMLN decided to 
suspend peace negotiations with the Government. 


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The Commission on the Truth finds the following: 

1. The bomb attacks on the offices of COMADRES and FENASTRAS on 

31 October 1989 were part of a systematic pattern of attacks on the lives, 
physical integrity and freedom of members of those organizations. 

2. The Government of El Salvador failed in its duty to guarantee the 
human rights to which the members of these organizations are entitled as 
individuals and as members of their organizations. 

3. The attack on FENASTRAS was carried out using a bomb which persons 
unknown placed outside its offices. 

4 . The competent authorities of El Salvador did not carry out a full and 
impartial investigation of the attacks on the offices of COMADRES and FENASTRAS. 

5. There is no countervailing evidence that FMLN or FENASTRAS members 
carried out the attack. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 293 / 

COMADRES is a non-governmental organization established to provide support 
for mothers and relatives of victims of politically motivated disappearances or 
murders. It was founded in December 1977 at the suggestion of 
Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero. 

FENASTRAS is an independent confederation formed in 1974 to strengthen 
trade unions and promote the interests of Salvadorian workers. It has 25,000 
individual members and 16 member trade unions. It is the largest industrial 
trade union confederation in El Salvador. Its main office is located two blocks 
away from the National Police in San Salvador. 

The attacks 


In the early morning of 31 October 1989, two men in uniform allegedly 
placed a bomb at the entrance to the COMADRES offices in San Salvador. A large 
lorry was also reportedly heard leaving the scene moments later. Four people, 
including a child of four months, were injured. The National Police blamed the 
crime on the guerrillas. 294 / 

At approximately 12.30 p.m. the same day, a worker who was a member of 
FENASTRAS noticed someone propping a sack against the outside wall of the 
FENASTRAS cafeteria. He smelt gunpowder and ran inside to warn his companions. 
Another witness, a scrap dealer, noticed two young men entering FENASTRAS 
grounds through the door in the access wall. One of them was carrying a 
suitcase in a jute sack. Through the door in the wall, we saw one of them 
"crouch down as if he was setting light to something". As he came out, he 
shouted that they had planted a bomb and the two of them ran off northwards. 

Outside, someone yelled "bomb!" and people began running. At that moment, 
the bomb exploded. The building was enveloped in smoke and powder and the 
offices were destroyed. More than 40 people were injured and the following were 


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killed: Ricardo Humberto Cestoni, trade unionist; 

Carmen Catalina Hernandez Ramos, FENASTRAS cook; Jose Daniel Lopez Melendez, 
trade unionist; Julia Tatiana Mendoza Aguirre, trade unionist and daughter of a 
leader of the Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FDR) assassinated in 1980; 
Vicente Salvador Melgar, trade unionist; Maria Magdalena Rosales, student and 
daughter of a trade union leader; Rosa Hilda Saravia de Elias, FENASTRAS cook 
and trade union member; Luis Edgardo Vasquez Marquez, trade unionist; and 
Febe Elizabeth Velasquez, International Secretary of FENASTRAS and a member of 
the Executive Committee of the Unidad Nacional de Trabajadores Salvadorenos 
(UNTS) . 

FENASTRAS members and the main trade unions blamed the armed forces. UNTS 
accused the Ministry of Defence of "summarily executing" the workers in 
retaliation for an FMLN attack on the Armed Forces Joint Staff the previous day. 

Background 

These attacks on the offices of COMADRES and FENASTRAS occurred in a 
specific political and chronological context. It was common knowledge that the 
two organizations were critical of government policy, especially with regard to 
human rights violations, and that FENASTRAS was critical of governmental 
measures which, from its point of view, were detrimental to workers' interests. 
The armed forces considered FENASTRAS a "front" for FMLN. 295/ 


The security forces had several members of COMADRES and FENASTRAS, as well 
as their offices, under constant surveillance. The offices of the two 
organizations were raided repeatedly and their members were regularly 
threatened, harassed and detained by the authorities. 296 / On 22 February and 
5 September, explosive devices were thrown at FENASTRAS headquarters. Hundreds 
of incidents of violence, persecution and threats against the two organizations 
have been reported. 

In this political and chronological context, it should be noted that during 
October 1989, there had been a number of attacks against the army and against 
opponents of the Government. 297 / The day before the attacks on COMADRES and 
FENASTRAS, FMLN members had attacked the Armed Forces Joint Staff using 
explosive devices. 298 / 

The investigation of the attacks 

Immediately after the attack on FENASTRAS, the Commission for the 
Investigation of Criminal Acts (CIHD) , the judiciary and the National Police 
launched their respective investigations. The Second Justice of the Peace, 
Nelson Ulises Umana Bojorquez, attempted to make a judicial inspection 299 / on 
31 October. He was forced to abandon his efforts owing to "the congestion and 
commotion caused by the crowd which [was] present at the scene". 300 / CIHD 
experts arrived half an hour after the attack to make a visual inspection. 
Neither they nor staff from the Police Explosives Unit were able to gain access 
to the inside of the building. 301 / 

There are many doubts as to the seriousness and impartiality with which the 
investigations proceeded. That same day, CIHD representatives expressed the 
view that "the cause of the explosion was the mishandling of explosive materials 


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inside the building itself" . 302 / Members of the Police Explosives Unit 
concluded that the attack "... formed part of the conspiracy to discredit the 
Government of El Salvador by making the national and international community 
believe that the attack was a government response to the artillery attack 
launched by FMLN on 30 October 1989 against the Armed Forces Joint Staff ... 
which leads us to conclude that FMLN carried out the attack against itself in 
order to confuse public opinion, making it believe that it was an act of revenge 
for the earlier attack". 

The CIHD dossier suggests that its investigation was based on the 
conclusions of the investigation carried out by the Technical Assistance 
Department of the "Sargento Carlos Sosa Santos" Explosives and Demolition Unit 
of the National Police, which ruled out the possibility that the explosive 
device had been planted at FENASTRAS offices "by an unknown person unconnected 
with that organization, since a meeting was being held inside the building and 
it is possible that access to it was being monitored by FENASTRAS staff" . 303 / 
One of the first steps taken by CIHD was to request the security forces 
"urgently" to provide any political or ordinary information on the people killed 
and injured in the explosion. 304 / 

In November 1989, at the request of President Cristiani, the United States 
Department of State sent FBI experts to inspect the site of the explosion at the 
FENASTRAS offices. 305 / In its report, the FBI concluded that the disturbance 
of the scene of the crime, the passage of time and the conditions in which the 
crime had occurred reduced the possibility of identifying the type of explosive 
used. 306 / It was able to determine only that a high-power explosive, weighing 
approximately 15 pounds, had been used, and that the explosion had occurred in 
the area between the access wall and the outside wall of the building 
itself. 307 / 

It has been heard that the Government allegedly pressured some detainees to 
blame FMLN for the attack or to issue false statements to the press. 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is sufficient evidence that the bomb attacks on the offices of 
COMADRES and FENASTRAS on 31 October 1989 were part of a systematic pattern of 
attacks on the lives, physical integrity and freedom of members of those 
organizations . 

2. There is full evidence that the Government of El Salvador failed in 
its duty to guarantee the human rights to which the members of these 
organizations are entitled as individuals and as members of their organizations. 

3. There is full evidence that the attack on the FENASTRAS offices was 
carried out using a bomb which persons unknown placed outside the building. 

4 . There is substantial evidence that the competent authorities of 

El Salvador did not carry out a full and impartial investigation of the attacks 
on the offices of COMADRES and FENESTRAS. 


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5. There is no countervailing evidence that FMLN or FENASTRAS members 
might have carried out the attack. 


(k) OQUELI AND FLORES 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 12 January 1990, Hector Oqueli Colindres and Gilda Flores Arevalo were 
abducted in Guatemala City, Republic of Guatemala. Their bodies were found the 
same day in the village of San Jose El Coco in the Jalpatagua district of 
Guatemala, 5 kilometres from the border with El Salvador. 

The facts of the killings are not in dispute. However, views differ as to 
who bears criminal and political responsibility. 

Within the constraints imposed on it, the Commission made an exhaustive 
effort to determine who was responsible for the murders. It received some of 
the results of the investigations made by the Office of the President of the 
Republic of Guatemala, made inquiries with the authorities of that country, 
evaluated information supplied by the Government of El Salvador, studied the 
report prepared by Professors Tom Farer and Robert Goldman, and received some 
relevant testimony. 

Having analysed the information available, it can say with certainty that 
members of the Guatemalan security forces, acting in conjunction with 
Salvadorians, took part in the crime. 

It also notes that the incident was not properly investigated and that some 
essential procedures were omitted. 

The Governments of Guatemala and El Salvador must make a thorough 
investigation of this double murder. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 

Background 

Hector Oqueli, a leader of the Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario (MNR) of 
El Salvador, 308 / enjoyed tremendous national and international prestige and had 
been active for many years in the Socialist International. 309 / He was widely 
regarded as the likely successor to MNR leader Guillermo Ungo. 310 / 

Gilda Flores Arevalo, a citizen and resident of Guatemala, was actively 
involved in the Partido Socialista Democratico (PSD) . 

The murder occurred shortly after the biggest military offensive of the 
Salvadorian conflict, launched by FMLN in November 1989. 

The fact that Hector Oqueli was an opposition politician in El Salvador and 
the outrage which this crime prompted make this case a serious act of violence 
falling within the Commission's mandate, regardless of the place where the 
incident occurred. 


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Some considerations 


After the Government of President Vinicio Cerezo came to power in 
Guatemala, some opponents of the Salvadorian regime, including Oqueli, began to 
engage in low profile political activities on Guatemalan territory. 311 / 

As a member of MNR, Oqueli had returned to El Salvador and was publicly 
active in politics. In November 1989, during an FMLN offensive, he took refuge 
in the Venezuelan Embassy. He then moved to Mexico, where he continued his 
political activities within the Socialist International. 

The facts 


On 11 January 1990, Oqueli was travelling from Mexico to Nicaragua to take 
part in a Socialist International meeting in Managua. He planned to make a 
one-day stopover in Guatemala and leave the next day for Managua. 

The reason for this stopover was to hold a political meeting with 
Mr. Rene Flores, a member of the same political group as Oqueli. Rene Flores 
travelled from San Salvador specifically to meet with Oqueli. Oqueli also 
planned to visit Gilda Flores in Guatemala. 

On 11 January, Oqueli arrived in Guatemala City. In the international 
arrivals area, he met up with Rene Flores, who was arriving on a flight from 
San Salvador. 

Oqueli went through immigration control without a problem. Two immigration 
officials then came up to him and asked him to show his passport again, on some 
administrative pretext, and detained him for over half an hour. Because of 
this, Oqueli was unable to leave the baggage area or go through customs because 
he did not have his passport. Gilda Flores and Rene Flores were waiting for him 
outside and could not understand why he had been delayed. 

Oqueli' s passport was new and absolutely in order and there was no reason 
why it could not be checked simply by looking at it. However, when the 
immigration officials returned it to him, they wrote in by hand over the date on 
the entry stamp the instruction "read this". 

Once outside, Oqueli met up with Rene Flores and Gilda Flores. They talked 
about the passport episode that had occurred in the baggage area and drove to 
the home of Gilda Flores. 

As they were leaving the airport, they noticed that some people who looked 
like plain clothes policemen were watching them, but nothing happened as they 
drove into the city. 

When they reached Gilda Flores' home, there were some people they did not 
know outside but since there was a foreign embassy there they did not see 
anything significant in this. 

Once inside the house, Oqueli made a number of telephone calls. He and 
Rene Flores talked about the overall political situation in El Salvador and 
Rene Flores gave him some documents. 


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Gilda Flores and Oquell then took Rene Flores to the airport. Rene Flores 
told the Commission on the Truth that he had been surprised that they went with 
him to the airport, as there was no need for this and it was not in line with 
the security measures that Oqueli always scrupulously observed. 

Gilda Flores invited Hector Oqueli to have dinner at her home. The maid 
left when dinner was over. Next morning, Flores and Oqueli set out early for 
the airport for Oqueli to take a plane to Managua. Gilda Flores was driving. 

At approximately 5.45 a.m., on the Avenida Sexta in Zona Nueve, they were 
intercepted by a private vehicle from which a group of people got out. 312 / 
Oqueli, who was in the front passenger seat, tried to escape but was 
overpowered. He and Gilda were forced into the vehicle which had intercepted 
them. 


Luis Ayala, the General Secretary of the Socialist International, and 
people at the International's meeting in Managua, began to wonder why Oqueli had 
not arrived. 

That same day, Guatemalan police went to the scene of the abduction and 
found papers in the vehicle abandoned on the street establishing that the 
vehicle belonged to Gilda Flores. That morning, a complaint had been lodged 
with the police that two individuals had violently stolen a vehicle from a 
Guatemalan citizen in Guatemala City. In doing so, the assailants had 
identified themselves as members of the police. 313 / The vehicle turned out to 
be the same one in which the bodies of Oqueli and Flores were found later. 

There were bullet wounds in the bodies and they appeared to have been injected 
with an unidentified substance. 314 / 

At 5 p.m. the same day, 12 January, the two bodies were found in a vehicle 
abandoned on the main road to the border with El Salvador. Hector Oqueli' s 
papers were in his clothing. 

Subsequent events 

The Guatemalan authorities concluded on the spot that the body was indeed 
that of Hector Oqueli Colindres. The body of Gilda Flores was identified by 
members of her family. 

President Cerezo ordered an investigation of the case. The result of these 
investigations was the so-called "Third Report". The report made no findings 
and assigned no responsibilities, but simply set forth a number of theories, on 
which the Guatemalan Government had based its investigation, as to the possible 
motives for the crime. The investigation went nowhere, even though the report 
itself maintained that intelligence services obtained information that persons 
with ties to the activities of Salvadorian terrorist groups in recent years 
might be operating in Guatemala. Among the names obtained were those of 
Francisco Ricardo de Sola and Orlando de Sola. Although there is no definite 
evidence linking them to the crime, the investigation found that they were in 
Guatemala on the exact days on which the abduction and murder took place. 315 / 
The report added that "information was found pointing to Infantry 
Colonel Mario Denis Moran Echeverria of the Salvadorian army, El Salvador' s 
Military Attache in Guatemala, as someone whose background gave grounds to 


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suspect that he might be providing a cover for clandestine terrorist groups 
coming from El Salvador. 316 / 

Reacting to the report, the Salvadorian Government claimed that Salvadorian 
citizens had been implicated without grounds. President Cristiani ordered the 
Attorney General of the Republic to launch an investigation. However, this 
investigation did not yield any results either. 

At the request of the Socialist International, Professors Tom Farer and 
Robert Goldman, human rights experts, evaluated the action taken by the 
Guatemalan Government. The Farer-Goldman report found that the deficiencies of 
the Government's reports were so obvious that one could conclude that the 
investigation had been meant to fail. 317 / 

The Oqueli-Flores case is still awaiting a judicial resolution in both 
El Salvador and Guatemala. 

Analysis 

The Commission interviewed a considerable number of people who had been 
close to Oqueli, both members of his family and political contacts, and made all 
kinds of inquiries in order to obtain more precise information on the official 
investigations made in Guatemala and El Salvador. It had access to information 
about many of the possible motives for the double murder. Unfortunately, the 
most important information needed to conduct an in-depth investigation and 
answer some of the questions which were suggested to the Commission as a basis 
for its work could not be substantiated when the Commission requested that it be 
given access to all the information gathered by the Salvadorian Government on 
the Oqueli-Flores case. The reluctance in both Guatemala and El Salvador to 
give the Commission access to the information it requested during its 
investigation imposed serious constraints on it. 

In this case, the facts are documented and the characteristics of the 
abduction and murder of Hector Oqueli and Gilda Flores are not in question. 
However, neither those who planned the double homicide nor those who carried it 
out have been identified. 

It was never made clear why the Guatemalan authorities had detained Oqueli 
at the airport and confiscated his passport for over half an hour. Nor was the 
liquid injected into the victims before their death identified. The records of 
persons entering and leaving the country were not checked - not even the records 
of the frontier post that was five kilometres away from the place where the 
bodies were found. No statement was taken from anyone whose testimony was 
decisive for shedding light on the facts and no one took the fingerprints left 
on the vehicles. Lastly, there was no investigation of the fact that the 
individuals who stole the car used for the crime identified themselves as 
police . 

The dossier does not contain any new information other than letters and 
reports from police units and purely procedural judicial documents. 

The Commission requested all existing information on this case from the 
highest level of the Government of the Republic of Guatemala. 318 / Despite the 


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latter's pledge to cooperate in the Commission's work, no relevant information 
was received. 319 / 

The Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of El Salvador provided 
the Commission with a copy of the dossier of the investigation made at the 
request of President Cristiani. In fact, the dossier is nothing more than a 
compilation of press clippings on the case. 320 / Moreover, the Office of the 
Attorney General did not interview the Salvadorians named in the "Third Report", 
some of whom were public officials in El Salvador. 

Among the theories as to possible motives for the crime is the fact that 
Hector Oqueli was an international political figure. This is the theory 
underlying the Guatemalan Government's "Third Report", which speculates that the 
killers could have been from the most radical sectors of FMLN, the Guatemalan 
army, the Salvadorian authorities or the Salvadorian extreme right wing. 

MNR provided the Commission with the original of a military identity card, 
belonging to a major Rene Grande Martinez, which had been handed over to it by 
President Vinicio Cerezo and which the Guatemalan authorities had apparently 
found at the scene of the murder. 

The Ministry of Defence did little to respond to the request by the 
Commission on the Truth that it locate Major Grande Martinez. The Commission 
summoned him repeatedly but he never came to testify. 

The Commission determined that the most important features of this murder 
were: (a) that the murderers knew beforehand that Oqueli would be in Guatemala; 

(b) that Oqueli was detained at the airport by authorities; (c) that his 
movements were constantly watched; (d) that persons claiming to be police stole 
the vehicle in which the bodies were later found; (e) that Oqueli was abducted 
in Guatemala City in broad daylight in the middle of the street; (f) and that 
the murderers were able to drive without incident from the capital city to the 
border with the two victims in a stolen car. All of this makes it absolutely 
clear that the Guatemalan authorities must have collaborated with or tolerated 
these crimes. 

FINDINGS 

1. The Governments of Guatemala and El Salvador have not done enough to 
thoroughly investigate the reasons for the murder of Hector Oqueli Colindres and 
Gilda Flores or to find out who was responsible. The Commission on the Truth 
urges the two Governments separately to order the necessary action to clear up 
the crime and jointly, with the cooperation of such international bodies as are 
able to help them clarify this tragic event, to provide the international 
community with information establishing what happened, without prejudice to the 
corresponding judicial action. 

2. The Commission believes that there is a direct link between the 

following facts: the fact that Hector Oqueli Colindres and Gilda Flores Arevalo 

were members of their countries' political opposition; the fact that Oqueli was 
inexplicably detained by Guatemalan authorities at the airport; the fact that 
the home of Gilda Flores was being watched; the subsequent abduction and murder 


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of Oquell and Flores; and alleged police involvement in the theft of the car in 
which the bodies were found. 

3. The Commission has found sufficient evidence that members of the 
Salvadorian security forces, acting in conjunction with or tolerated by 
Guatemalan security forces, were responsible for the murders. 

4. There is sufficient evidence that the Salvadorian authorities did not 
investigate this crime properly. There is also sufficient evidence that the 
investigations made by the Guatemalan authorities were deficient and that the 
omission of basic evidence, even if not intended as a cover-up, had that effect. 

3. ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES 

(a) VENTURA AND MEJIA 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

Francisco Arnulfo Ventura and Jose Humberto Mejia, law students at the 
University of El Salvador, were arrested by members of the National Guard in the 
parking lot of the United States Embassy on 22 January 1980 after a student 
demonstration. According to witnesses, members of the National Guard handed the 
students over to some men in civilian clothing who drove off with them in a 
private car. Despite the judicial investigations and remedies carried out since 
that date, the students' whereabouts are still unknown. 

The Commission made the following findings: 

1 . Members of the National Guard arrested Francisco Arnulfo Ventura and 
Jose Humberto Mejia, detained them in the parking lot of the United States 
Embassy and then handed them over to some men in civilian clothing who drove off 
with them in a private vehicle. 

2. While in the custody of those men, the students disappeared and there 
is no evidence that they are still alive. 

3. By denying that the students had been arrested and failing to act 
quickly to investigate the incident and identify precisely who was responsible, 
then Colonel Eugenio Vides Casanova, Commander of the National Guard, was 
guilty, at the least of complicity through negligence and of obstructing the 
resulting judicial investigation. 

4. The State failed in its duty to investigate, bring to trial and punish 
the guilty parties, compensate the victims' relatives and inform them of the 
whereabouts of the disappeared persons. The State must comply fully and 
promptly with these obligations. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 321 / 

On the morning of 22 January 1980, a student demonstration which had 
marched from the University of El Salvador to the centre of San Salvador was 
violently dispersed by security forces in front of the cathedral; a number of 
people were killed or injured. 322 / 


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Two of the demonstrators, Francisco Arnulfo Ventura Reyes (age 24) and 
Jose Humberto Mejia (age 25), both law students, went through the main entrance 
of the United States Embassy after the demonstration, at about 2.30 in the 
afternoon . 

According to a number of witnesses, members of the National Guard arrested 
them at the Embassy gate and took them into the parking lot, where they stayed 
for a few minutes in the custody of the National Guard. Shortly afterwards, a 
private car 323 / entered the Embassy parking lot and the National Guard handed 
the students over to some men in civilian clothing who put them in the car boot 
and drove off. That was the last that was seen of the students. 

The investigation 

The same afternoon, a relative of Francisco Ventura went looking for him. 
Near the cathedral, a number of people told him that they had heard that 
Francisco Ventura and Jose Humberto Mejia had been arrested in front of the 
United States Embassy by guards. The next day, he received confirmation of this 
information when he went to the Asociacion General de Estudiantes Universitarios 
Salvadorenos (AGEUS) . 

At the request of AGEUS, Mr. Santiago Orellana Amador and 
Mr. Florentin Menendez were appointed to file writs of habeas corpus for the two 
students. According to their judicial statements, they spoke to 

Mr. Vytantos A. Dambrava, Director of the International Communications Agency of 
the United States Embassy, and to the Embassy's chief of security. Both Embassy 
officials said that they had known about the students' arrest and that the 
United States Marines had not been involved. They also said that the members of 
the National Guard who had been guarding the Embassy had brought the students 
into the courtyard to search them, and had kept them there. They added that, 
shortly afterwards, the two young men had been taken out of the Embassy. 

Mr. Dambrava said that they had been taken away by members of the National 
Guard, 324 / while the chief of security said that men in olive drab trousers and 
ordinary shirts had driven off with them in a private vehicle. 

Mr. Orellana and Mr. Melendez later interviewed 
Colonel Eugenio Vides Casanova, then Commander of the National Guard, who denied 
the statements by the Embassy officials. The lawyers then requested the Supreme 
Court to rule on the conflicting information given by the Embassy and the 
National Guard Command. 325 / 

At the same time, the Chief State Counsel, Mario Zamora, filed a complaint 
with the Second Criminal Court. Testimony was heard from relatives of the 
disappeared students. The judge also requested information from the United 
States Embassy and the National Guard, but did not receive a reply. 

On 22 February 1980, the Supreme Court authorized the judge of the Second 
Criminal Court to initiate an investigation into the whereabouts of the 
disappeared students. That same night, Mario Zamora was murdered. 326 / After 
that, no further investigations were carried out. 

However, the lawyers pursued their investigation, visiting National Guard 
barracks, 327 / while the students' relatives searched everywhere, even among the 


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bodies that were turning up on the outskirts of San Salvador. Neither the young 
men nor their bodies were found. 

Three months later, the death squad known as the "Ejercito Secreto 
Anti-Comunista" published a list of names which included people who had already 
been murdered or disappeared, such as Monsignor Romero, Father Rutilio Grande 
and Chief State Counsel Mario Zamora. The names of Francisco Arnulfo Ventura 
and Jose Humberto Mejia were on the list. At the end of the list was an 
exhortation which read, "... help us get rid of all these traitors and criminal 
communists. The country will thank you for it." 328 / 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is full evidence that members of the National Guard arrested 
Francisco Arnulfo Ventura and Jose Humberto Mejia, detained them in the parking 
lot of the United States Embassy and handed them over to men in civilian 
clothing who drove off with them in a private car. 

2. While in the custody of these men who drove into the Embassy parking 
lot and to whom they were handed over by the guards who arrested them, Ventura 
and Mejia disappeared. There is no evidence that they are still alive. 

3. There is substantial evidence that by failing to act quickly to 
investigate the incident and identify precisely who was responsible, then 
Colonel Eugenio Vides Casanova was guilty, at least of complicity through 
negligence and of obstructing the resulting judicial investigation. 

The State failed in its duty to investigate, bring to trial and punish the 
guilty parties, compensate victims' relatives and inform them of the whereabouts 
of the disappeared persons. The State must comply with its obligations. 


(b) RIVAS HERNANDEZ 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

Miguel Angel Rivas Hernandez, aged 17, disappeared on Saturday, 

29 November 1986, near the Ilopango air force base in San Salvador. Witnesses 
attributed his arrest to members of the air force, to whom his family went to 
demand his return; at the base however, they were told that he was not being 
detained. Despite this official denial, the family received confirmation that 
the young man was at the base. Accordingly, they reported his disappearance to 
human rights organizations. 

In January 1987 the young man was allegedly transferred to the National 
Guard central barracks in San Salvador. In March 1988, the victim's father 
maintains that he saw him from a distance at the National Guard barracks. 

The Commission finds that: 


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1. Miguel Angel Rivas Hernandez was arrested on 29 November 1986 by 
members of the Salvadorian air force. 

2. He was transferred from the air force base to the National Guard 
central barracks, where he disappeared, there being no evidence that he is still 
alive . 


3. The Salvadorian air force and the National Guard covered up his arrest 
and detention. 

4. The Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts (CIHD) did not 
cooperate properly with the Commission. It transmitted incomplete information 
concerning its investigation of the case. 

Miguel Angel Rivas Hernandez was arrested by members of the air force and 
subsequently transferred to the National Guard central barracks; not only did he 
disappear while in the custody of the National Guard, but there is no evidence 
that he is still alive. Air force and National Guard personnel covered up his 
detention. The State cannot evade its duty to investigate the case thoroughly. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 

Miguel Angel Rivas Hernandez, son of Guillermo Rivas Compas, a bus driver, 
and Rosa Elba Rivas, a housewife, lived in the Ilopango district adjacent to the 
Salvadorian air force base in San Salvador. He was not known in the community 
to be involved in political activities. 

When he was 17, Miguel Angel got a job as attendant at the Texaco service 
station located on the Pan American Highway, just beyond the limits of air force 
base property. He walked to and from work every day. 

It was common to see motorized patrols circulating at various times, as 
well as members of the Salvadorian air force on foot. Residents of the area 
usually knew airmen who worked at the base. 

Arrest and disappearance 

On Saturday, 29 November 1986, Miguel Angel's boss at the Texaco service 
station gave him permission to leave at approximately 7.30 p.m. As usual, he 
headed straight for home. 

Miguel Angel's parents were expecting him at around 8 p.m. The young man 
did not arrive home. Worried, they inquired at the filling station, where they 
were assured that he had left shortly before 7.30 p.m. 

His mother managed to find out that individuals in civilian clothing, 
driving a red pick-up truck with no doors on the cab, had detained a boy wearing 
white trousers and a black shirt. The description fitted Miguel Angel. His 
captors, from the description given, appeared to be members of the "7.30 p.m. 
air force patrol". 

Very early the next day, Miguel Angel' s parents went to the air force base 
to inquire about him, but were told that he was not being detained. They then 


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went to various police and military departments, but these also denied that they 
were holding him. 

A neighbour told Miguel Angel's mother that a young man had witnessed the 
arrest and had recognized an airman from the base as one of the captors. The 
airman was nicknamed "El Mango". 

An air force member, nicknamed "El Chino", also confirmed to a friend of 
Miguel Angel that he was being held at the Ilopango air force base. This friend 
told Miguel Angel's mother. At the base, however, they still officially denied 
his detention. 


Complaints and searches 

In view of these continuing denials, the family decided, in December 1986, 
to report Miguel Angel's disappearance to several human rights bodies: the 

Human Rights Commission of El Salvador (governmental), the Archdiocesan Legal 
Protection Office, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Amnesty 
International and Americas Watch. Americas Watch brought the case to the 
attention of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) . 329 / 

In January 1987, the family was informed of Miguel Angel's transfer to the 
National Guard barracks in San Salvador. 330 / However, when they went there, 
his detention was again denied. 

The transfer of Miguel Angel Rivas Hernandez from the air force to the 
National Guard was apparently recorded in the Guard' s books in 
January 1987. 331 / 


In February 1987, the case was presented to the United States Embassy in 
El Salvador. Some members of the United States Congress wrote letters to their 
own Embassy in El Salvador 332 / and to the then President of El Salvador, 

Jose Napoleon Duarte, 333 / expressing concern at Miguel Angel's disappearance. 
In March, an Amnesty International mission visited the National Guard barracks, 
but did not find the young man there. 


The investigation 

CIHD took charge of the investigation of the case in April 1987. 334 / 
Detective Sergeant Roberto Palacios Iraheta was assigned to the 
investigation. 335 / 


Sergeant Palacios found out from an informant that a National Guard 
lieutenant had called a meeting of five Guard members and had ordered them to 
hide the books containing the records of the interrogations to which 
Rivas Hernandez 336 / had been subjected and the place where he was being held: 
National Guard cell ( bartolina ) No. 4, S-II. 


On receiving this information. Lieutenant Colonel 
Nelson Ivan Lopez y Lopez, Chief of the CIHD Executive Unit, decided to 
intervene directly in the case and went to the National Guard barracks, but did 
not find the young man. 337 / 


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In a report dated 26 May, Lieutenant Colonel Lopez noted that "... the 
investigations concerning Mr. Rivas Hernandez are running into complications 
which require decisions at another level and which will shortly be reported . . . 
(to the Head of CIHD)". 338 / 

On 2 June 1987, in another report. Lieutenant Colonel Lopez "... described, 
in general terms, the difficulties encountered in the case of the disappearance 
of Mr. Rivas Hernandez". 339 / 

Meanwhile, the family received regular information from its own source 
concerning Miguel Angel's state of health and place of detention. (The family's 
source was the same as that of CIHD.) 

The family also transmitted regularly to this source various sums of money, 
which were carefully recorded by the victim' s mother, during the period from 
June 1987 to February 1989. The informant reported seeing the detained youth in 
person and also gave an account of various transfers, both to official National 
Guard locations and to private houses; on several occasions, ICRC visited the 
official locations, without finding the young man. 

On 23 March 1988, IACHR adopted resolution No. 21/88 in which it assumed 
that the facts of the complaint on the disappearance were true, advised the 
Government of El Salvador that the case involved extremely grave violations of 
human rights and recommended that it investigate and punish those responsible. 

A few days later, nearly 16 months after the disappearance, the young man's 
father, Guillermo Rivas Campos, claims he caught sight of Miguel Angel for a few 
moments at the National Guard Command in San Pablo Tacachico. 


The United States Embassy, through one of its officials, constantly 
supported the family in the search for the young man. Colonel Rivas Rivas of 
CIHD interviewed a colonel and a lieutenant of the National Guard, without 
success . 


Following the FMLN offensive in 1989, the father of 
Miguel Angel Rivas Hernandez was detained on charges of being linked to the 
guerrilla movement. His release was obtained with the help of the United States 
Embassy . 

FINDINGS 


The Commission finds the following: 


1. There is substantial evidence that Miguel Angel Rivas Hernandez was 
arrested by members of the Salvadorian air force. 


2 . 

Guard . 


There is substantial evidence that he was transferred to the National 


3 . There 
National Guard, 
alive . 


is substantial evidence that, while 
the young man disappeared; there is 


in the custody of the 
no evidence that he is still 


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4 . There is substantial evidence that the air force subsequently covered 
up his arrest and detention and that the National Guard covered up his 
detention . 

5. The State failed in its responsibility under international human 
rights law to investigate the case and to bring to trial and punish those 
responsible . 


(c) CHAN CHAN AND MAS SI 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

The Commission on the Truth received abundant complaints of disappearances 
and studied most of them in depth. The present case is symptomatic of the 
disregard shown for family values, family feelings, maternal grief and trade 
union solidarity, which is why the Commission chose to focus on it. 

On 18 August 1989, trade unionists Sara Cristina Chan Chan Medina and 
Juan Francisco Massi Chavez were walking home along the Boulevard del Ejercito, 
near San Salvador. She was 20 years old and a photographer for the trade union 
confederation FENASTRAS; he was 25, a student and worked for the LIDO factory. 

As they passed the Reprocentro factory, 2.5 kilometres from the capital city, 
six air force members arrested them in front of the main gate: passengers in 

the buses driving by on the road recognized the young people and saw them 
standing against the wall with their hands in the air while being interrogated 
by the soldiers. This occurred at approximately 6 p.m. They have not been seen 
since . 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 340 / 

Background 

Juan Francisco was born on 25 February 1973 in Quezaltepeque, La Libertad, 
to Carmen Chavez de Massi and Simeon Massi. He lived with his family in the 
Las Margaritas district in Soyapango, was a worker, was public relations 
secretary of the trade union at the LIDO company, worked with FENASTRAS members 
on various trade union projects, had never been arrested and had no criminal 
record . 

Sara Cristina Chan Chan was the eldest daughter of 
Jorge Eduardo Chan Chan Jimenez and Maria Juana Antonia Medina. The family used 
to live in the city of Santa Ana, where her father was an office worker and a 
well-known leader of the trade union ANDA. She had never been arrested either 
and had no criminal record. She had however, suffered the consequences of her 
family's trade union activities. 

On 16 June 1980, when Sara Cristina was barely 10 years old, men in 
civilian clothing came to her home and murdered her father in the presence of 
Sara Cristina, her three younger brothers and sisters and her mother. The men 
arrived at 2 a.m. and identified themselves as members of the National Guard. 
When Sara Cristina' s father refused to open the door, the men broke one of the 
windows and shot him. They also fired at the propane gas cylinder in the 


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kitchen, and one of the men was about to light a match when he say Sara Cristina 
and her brothers and sisters hiding under a bed. They left without setting fire 
to the house because there were "quite a few children" in it. 

Because of the murder of Jorge Eduardo Chan Chan Jimenez, the family went 
to live in San Salvador. It was only after "quite some time" that 
Sara Cristina's mother decided to return to Santa Ana. In July 1989, according 
to witnesses, a group of uniformed soldiers from the Second Brigade, together 
with some civilians, came to her house. They blindfolded her and put her into a 
vehicle to take her to the Santa Ana barracks; on the way, she was tortured. 
After her release that same month, the family returned to the capital to live. 
There, Sara Cristina had obtained a job as a photographer for FENASTRAS, one of 
the country's largest and most active trade unions. Because FENASTRAS took 
positions critical of the armed forces, it was labelled a "front for FMLN" . In 
1989, threats against FENASTRAS were common and its members were accused in the 
media of having organizational links to FMLN. A month before the disappearance 
of Sara Cristina and Juan Francisco, a paid advertisement in the newspaper 
El Diario de Hoy blamed leaders of FMLN, priests Ignacio Ellacuria and 
Segundo Montes and leaders of FENASTRAS for the country' s destruction by 
terrorism. The same advertisement asked President Cristiani to institute the 
death penalty and summary trials for these people. 

Such characterizations, and the persecution of members of the trade union 
movement in general, added to the years of confrontation between FENASTRAS and 
the armed forces, created a situation in which the armed forces viewed anyone 
belonging to FENASTRAS as suspect. As a result, FENASTRAS members and persons 
linked to the trade union movement were generally considered by the Salvadorian 
authorities to be a threat to the security of the State. 

The arrests 


On Saturday, 18 August, Sara Cristina spent the entire morning at 
FENASTRAS. She then took a bus to go and visit Juan Francisco, who worked at 
the LIDO factory on the Boulevard del Ejercito. She met him and they set off on 
foot towards San Salvador. The young people lived in the Santa Lucia district, 
near Juan Francisco's work. 

As they passed the Reprocentro commercial factory, 2.5 kilometres from the 
capital, six air force members stopped them in front of the main factory gate. 
The soldiers were armed with M-16 rifles and wore red berets with the air force 
metal badge. Three of them were in olive-green uniform, the others in 
camouflage . 

Air force motor patrols and soldiers on foot were a common sight. The air 
force maintained checkpoints and patrols on the Boulevard del Ejercito, near its 
base, 24 hours a day. It also had soldiers stationed inside several commercial 
firms located on the Boulevard, close to the base. 

Between 6 and 6.30 p.m., several people travelling past the place 
recognized Sara Cristina and Juan Francisco. The first to go by was a colleague 
from work who recognized the two detainees, got out of the vehicle in which he 
was travelling and returned to San Salvador to report the arrests to FENASTRAS. 
Minutes later, two colleagues went by in a minibus; when they realized that the 


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two had been arrested, they too got out and returned to the city. 

Febe Elizabeth Vasquez, General Secretary of FENASTRAS, also drove by; she 
witnessed the arrest and returned to the office to inform her colleagues. 

According to the log of incoming and outgoing vehicles kept by the 
Paratroop Battalion, a driver left at 6.50 p.m. to drop off patrols on the 
Boulevard. Others also left to patrol the Boulevard at this time. 341 / 

According to testimony, one of the soldiers asked Sara Cristina and 
Juan Francisco for their identity papers, while others stood guard. Other 
witnesses said that the soldiers had surrounded them and had placed them against 
a wall with their hands in the air, directly in front of the Reprocentro 
factory . 

Some people were waiting for a bus nearby and must have witnessed the 
arrest. Out of fear, they did not approach, but they commented that the 
soldiers "had some detainees over there". That is what people usually said in 
those days. 

The Paratroop Battalion was in charge of patrolling the Boulevard del 
Ejercito and, that day, its third squadron was the unit assigned to guard the 
Boulevard. The officer in charge was Captain Oscar Arnulfo Diaz Amaya. In 
August 1989, some six or eight air force members were on duty 24 hours a day at 
the Reprocentro factory. These soldiers had orders to stay inside the factory 
premises. The air force did not provide the Commission on the Truth with the 
names of the officers of the unit which was guarding that company. The arrests 
were reported immediately to FENASTRAS which telephoned the media to report the 
incident. A FENASTRAS member left within 15 minutes to investigate; when he 
arrived on the scene, the young people were still being held. Later, two other 
people drove to the place, but the young people were no longer there. A total 
of five people witnessed the arrests. 

The soldiers allegedly took Sara Cristina and Juan Francisco to the air 
force barracks, although no one saw a military vehicle at the scene. Lieutenant 
Colonel Rene Alcides Rodriguez Hurtado, Commander of the Paratroop Battalion at 
the time, told the Commission that, when Battalion troops made arrests, the 
normal procedure was to communicate with the duty officer through the air force 
base radio station; a vehicle would then be sent to bring the detainees to the 
base, where they would be interrogated. Following interrogation, the detainee 
was either released or handed over to the Treasury Police, the National Police 
or the National Guard. Lieutenant Colonel Rodriguez Hurtado, who was chief duty 
officer at the time, did not record the arrest of Sara Cristina and 
Juan Francisco. 342 / When FENASTRAS telephoned the air force to find out 
whether they had been transferred to the barracks, the duty commander denied 
that any arrest had been reported. 

Efforts made by relatives 

The next day, Sara Cristina's mother was informed of her daughter's arrest. 
Juan Francisco's family, however, learnt of the arrests the same day, through a 
relative . 


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According to testimony, on Monday, 20 August, a representative of the Human 
Rights Commission of El Salvador who was at the Ilopango air force base 
investigating the arrests of Sara Cristina and Juan Francisco said that he had 
been informed that the young people had been arrested by members of the air 
force, but that they had already been handed over to the Treasury Police central 
barracks. A sister of Juan Francisco and a FENASTRAS lawyer also went to the 
air force base but were not allowed in. The Paratroop Battalion log of incoming 
and outgoing vehicles for the period from 18 to 20 August 1989, however, has no 
entry concerning the detainees. 343 / 

From that moment on, the authorities systematically denied even the fact 
that the arrests had occurred, and hence all knowledge of the victims' 
whereabouts and fate. That same day, Monday, 20 August, Sara Cristina's mother 
had gone to the Ilopango air force base to ask about her daughter. The soldier 
on duty took out a list and then went to call another officer. A few minutes 
later, an officer by the name of Flores arrived. He told the mother to "do me a 
big favour, tell those FENASTRAS people to stop putting that propaganda on 
television. We don't have them". 

From that moment on, Sara Cristina' s mother found herself embarked on a 
futile quest. She went to various military and police departments around the 
city in search of information; from the National Police to the air force; from 
the air force to the Treasury Police; from the Treasury Police to the air force. 
All her efforts were in vain. 

Juan Francisco's sister also went to the Treasury Police, where she was 
told that the air force had not transferred anyone. Returning to the air force 
base, she was told that she had been misinformed and the air force had not 
arrested anyone by the name of Juan Francisco Massi or Sara Cristina Chan Chan. 

Sara Cristina's mother went to the air force a third time, at 8 a.m., on 
Tuesday, 21 August, where they insisted that she look for her daughter at the 
National Guard barracks. From there, she went round in circles again: from the 

National Guard to the Treasury Police; from the Treasury Police to the National 
Police; from the National Police to the Treasury Police; from the Treasury 
Police to the National Guard. Again, all her efforts were in vain. 

On Wednesday, 22 August, she returned to the air force base, accompanied by 
a FENASTRAS lawyer. At the entrance to the base, she met Juan Francisco's 
father, who was taking similar steps to find his son. 

The same air force officer dealt with them. This time, he told 
Sara Cristina's mother that if she came back one more time, "the same thing 
would happen to her", in other words, they might make her disappear. The 
officer denied the arrests, but took the opportunity to tell them that 
Juan Francisco was an FMLN commander and that young people who joined the 
guerrillas often died. 

Since the mother insisted that various people had witnessed the arrests by 
members of the air force a few days earlier, another officer was finally called 
in; he took the mother to the bartolinas . She inspected six cells, but saw 
neither Sara Cristina nor Juan Francisco. The officer shouted, "Don't come back 
unless you want this to happen to you!". Out of fear, she never returned. 


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On Thursday, 23 August, Sara Cristina's younger sister went to the air 
force base, accompanied by a lawyer. The officer who dealt with them said to 
her: "You must be her sister, you look a lot like her. But we don't have her. 

Stop coming here to ask about her, because we don't have her here!" 

Sara Cristina' s sister returned to the air force base with a sister of 
Juan Francisco on Friday, 24 August. Despite her pleas, the soldiers again 
denied the arrests. 

The families of Sara Cristina and Juan Francisco left no stone unturned: 
they put paid advertisements in the newspaper demanding the release of both 
young people; 344 / they made countless visits to hospitals, cemeteries and 
police and military departments; they filed complaints with the (governmental) 
Human Rights Commission, the (non-governmental) Human Rights Commission, the 
Archdiocesan Legal Protection Office, the International Committee of the Red 
Cross (ICRC) and other human rights bodies; and they filed writs of 
habeas corpus with the Supreme Court. 345 / 

Letters were also sent to the Legislative Assembly and the Ministry of 
Justice. Two members of the Assembly informed Sara Cristina's mother that the 
young people's names were recorded in the air force's internal prisoner logs and 
that they were being held in the cellar of the air force barracks. The arrest 
and transfer to Ilopango air force base were thus confirmed. 

The Director of the Archdiocesan Legal Protection Office sent letters to 
the Director-General of the Treasury Police at the time. Colonel 
Hector Heriberto Hernandez; the Commander of the air force. Colonel 
Juan Rafael Bustillo; the Chief of the Armed Forces Joint Staff at the time. 
Colonel Rene Emilio Ponce; the Minister of Defence and Public Security at the 
time. General Rafael Humberto Larios Lopez; the Vice-Minister for Public 
Security, Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano; and the Vice-Minister for Defence, 
Colonel Juan Orlando Zepeda. 

The only reply received was from the Treasury Police. In a letter dated 
23 August 1989, Colonel Hector Heriberto Hernandez replied that he had 
"painstakingly" searched "the archives" and that Juan Francisco and 
Sara Cristina were not being held and had not been held by that body. 346 / 

The governmental Human Rights Commission searched for Sara Cristina and 
Juan Francisco at the air force base, the Artillery Brigade, the Cavalry 
Regiment, the National Police central barracks, the National Guard, the Treasury 
Police, the First Infantry Brigade, the Fourth Infantry Brigade and Military 
Detachment No. 1. 347 / These efforts proved fruitless and the investigation was 
apparently limited to asking the officer in charge of each unit to fill out a 
form stating that he was not holding the young people. The Human Rights 
Commission finally stated that it had been unable to find out any information on 
the case. 

The Commission on the Truth asked the air force, the National Police, the 
Treasury Police and the National Guard for information on all the people 
arrested by them during the period from 16 to 20 August. It also asked for the 
list of people transferred from the air force to the other security forces 
during that week. The air force transmitted the list of people arrested by its 
units during the period from 16 to 20 August 1989; however, the list was not the 


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original, but a typewritten copy, and listed only six people as having been 
arrested on 17 August. There was no record of the arrest of Sara Cristina or 
Juan Francisco. 348 / 

The National Police transmitted a list of people arrested by its units 
during the period from 17 to 19 August 1989. This list, a typewritten copy of 
the names of several people arrested on those days, also contained no record of 
the arrest of Sara Cristina or Juan Francisco. 349 / The National Guard 
transmitted copies of the pages of the book in which it kept a record of people 
arrested on 17, 18, 19 and 20 August. There was no record of Sara Cristina or 
Juan Francisco. It stated that, on those days, "no one was transferred to it 
from the Salvadorian air force". 350 / 

The Massi family received several telegrams telling them to go to the 
National Police to get Juan Francisco. Juan Francisco's father established a 
relationship with an individual who allegedly belonged to the National Police 
and who told him that his son was at the police barracks in the Monserrat 
district and that he could communicate with him. According to that source, his 
son had injuries from the blows he had received and needed clothes and money. 
Although Juan Francisco's father took him food, clothing and money, he was never 
allowed to see him. He was told that Juan Francisco was in bad shape and that 
he had to wait until the young man was better. The father stayed in contact 
with the policeman until 1991, but Juan Francisco never appeared. Finally, the 
family gave up the search. 

A month after the disappearance of Sara Cristina and Juan Francisco, on 
18 September 1989, Sara Cristina's mother took part in a demonstration organized 
by FENASTRAS to demand the release of the two young people. Along with 63 other 
people, she was arrested by members of the National Police and transferred to 
the central barracks. She was threatened, beaten and tortured. The next month, 
her younger daughter was injured when a bomb exploded at FENASTRAS headquarters. 
After this last incident, the mother stopped looking for her daughter. 

The official investigations 

The military authorities, the Government and the judiciary all refused to 
investigate the incident. Because of the publicity surrounding the case, 
however, the air force asked then Lieutenant Edgardo Ernesto Echeverria, Chief 
of the C-II Tactical Support Division, to carry out an internal investigation. 
Lieutenant Echeverria questioned the soldiers in his division and, upon 
receiving negative replies, reported that no one in his unit had seen the two 
young people. 

In testimony before the Commission, Lieutenant Echeverria described the 
investigation as "a bureaucratic investigation", confined to asking questions 
orally. He said that such cases had been common during the two years in which 
he worked in the intelligence division. The air force commander or chief had 
requested internal investigations on various occasions, and 

Lieutenant Echeverria could not recall a single case in which the air force had 
admitted responsibility. 


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FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is full evidence that members of the air force arrested 
Sara Cristina Chan Chan and Juan Francisco Massi. 

2. There is sufficient evidence that the detainees were transferred to 
the air force base. 

3. There is sufficient evidence that they disappeared while in the 
custody of the air force, and there is no evidence that they are still alive. 

4. There is full evidence of a cover-up by air force personnel, who 
denied the arrests of Sara Cristina Chan Chan and Juan Francisco Massi. 

5. The judiciary and the police investigation units which have so far 
refused to act must launch a special investigation into the air force to clear 
up the circumstances of the arrest and subsequent disappearance of the two young 
people. The Commission on the Truth considers it unacceptable that people 
seeking evidence in this case, which is typical of many such cases of 
disappearance, have been denied access to individuals or archives. It is 
incumbent on the judiciary, headed by the Supreme Court of Justice, to open this 
exhaustive investigation into the air force. As the expression of Salvadorian 
society, the State has an obligation to history to investigate the incident in a 
transparent manner, to punish the culprits and to compensate the families of the 
young victims Sara Cristina Chan Chan and Juan Francisco Massi. 


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C. MASSACRES OF PEASANTS BY THE ARMED FORCES 

In 1980, 1981 and 1982, several massacres of peasants were carried out by 

troops of the armed forces of El Salvador. An account of three of them follows. 

1. ILLUSTRATIVE CASE: EL MOZOTE 

SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 10 December 1981, in the village of El Mozote in the Department of 
Morazan, units of the Atlacatl Battalion detained, without resistance, all the 
men, women and children who were in the place. The following day, 11 December, 
after spending the night locked in their homes, they were deliberately and 
systematically executed in groups. First, the men were tortured and executed, 
then the women were executed and, lastly, the children, in the place where they 
had been locked up. The number of victims identified was over 200. The figure 
is higher if other unidentified victims are taken into account. 

These events occurred in the course of an anti-guerrilla action known as 
"Operacion Rescate" in which, in addition to the Atlacatl Battalion, units from 
the Third Infantry Brigade and the San Francisco Gotera Commando Training Centre 
took part. 

In the course of "Operacion Rescate", massacres of civilians also occurred 
in the following places: 11 December, more than 20 people in La Joya canton; 

12 December, some 30 people in the village of La Rancheria; the same day, by 
units of the Atlacatl Battalion, the inhabitants of the village of Los Toriles; 
and 13 December, the inhabitants of the village of Jocote Amarillo and 
Cerro Pando canton. More than 500 identified victims perished at El Mozote and 
in the other villages. Many other victims have not been identified. 

We have accounts of these massacres provided by eyewitnesses and by other 
witnesses who later saw the bodies, which were left unburied. In the case of 
El Mozote, the accounts were fully corroborated by the results of the 1992 
exhumation of the remains. 

Despite the public complaints of a massacre and the ease with which they 
could have been verified, the Salvadorian authorities did not order an 
investigation and consistently denied that the massacre had taken place. 

The Minister of Defence and the Chief of the Armed Forces Joint Staff have 
denied to the Commission on the Truth that they have any information that would 
make it possible to identify the units and officers who participated in 
"Operacion Rescate". They say that there are no records for the period. 

The President of the Supreme Court has interfered in a biased and political 
way in the judicial proceedings on the massacre instituted in 1990. 


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DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 

Village of El Mozote 

On the afternoon of 10 December 1981, units of the Atlacatl Rapid 
Deployment Infantry Battalion (BIRI) arrived in the village of El Mozote, 
Department of Morazan, after a clash with guerrillas in the vicinity. 

The village consisted of about 20 houses situated on open ground around a 
square. Facing onto the square was a church and behind it a small building 
known as "the convent", used by the priest to change into his vestments when he 
came to the village to celebrate mass. Not far from the village was a school, 
the Grupo Escolar. 

When the soldiers arrived in the village they found, in addition to the 
residents, other peasants who were refugees from the surrounding areas. They 
ordered everyone out of the houses and into the square; they made them lie face 
down, searched them and asked them about the guerrillas. They then ordered them 
to lock themselves in their houses until the next day, warning that anyone 
coming out would be shot. The soldiers remained in the village during the 
night . 


Early next morning, 11 December, the soldiers reassembled the entire 
population in the square. They separated the men from the women and children 
and locked everyone up in different groups in the church, the convent and 
various houses. 

During the morning, they proceeded to interrogate, torture and execute the 
men in various locations. Around noon, they began taking out the women in 
groups, separating them from their children and machine-gunning them. Finally, 
they killed the children. A group of children who had been locked in the 
convent were machine-gunned through the windows. After exterminating the entire 
population, the soldiers set fire to the buildings. 

The soldiers remained in El Mozote that might. The next day, they went 
through the village of Los Toriles, situated 2 kilometres away. Some of the 
inhabitants managed to escape. The others, men, women and children, were taken 
from their homes, lined up and machine-gunned. 

The victims at El Mozote were left unburied. During the weeks that 
followed the bodies were seen by many people who passed by there. In 
Los Toriles, the survivors subsequently buried the bodies. 

Background 

The Atlacatl Battalion arrived at El Mozote in the course of a military 
action known as "Operacion Rescate", which had begun two days earlier on 
6 December and also involved units from the Third Brigade and the San Francisco 
Gotera Commando Training Centre. 

The Atlacatl Battalion was a "Rapid Deployment Infantry Battalion" or 
"BIRI", that is, a unit specially trained for "counter-insurgency" warfare. It 
was the first unit of its kind in the armed forces and had completed its 


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training, under the supervision of United States military advisers, at the 
beginning of that year, 1981. 

Nine months before "Operacion Rescate" took place, a company of the 
Atlacatl Battalion, under the command of Captain Juan Ernesto Mendez, had taken 
part in an anti-guerrilla operation in the same northern zone of Morazan. On 
that occasion, it had come under heavy attack from guerrillas and had had to 
withdraw with heavy casualties without achieving its military objective. This 
setback for the brand new "Rapid Deployment Infantry Battalion" made it the butt 
of criticism and jokes by officers of other units, who nicknamed it the "Rapid 
Retreat Infantry Battalion". 

The goal of "Operacion Rescate" was to eliminate the guerrilla presence in 
a small sector in northern Morazan, where the guerrillas had a camp and a 
training centre at a place called La Guacamaya. 

Colonel Jaime Florez Grijalva, Commander of the Third Brigade, was 
responsible for overseeing the operation. Lieutenant Colonel 

Domingo Monterrosa Barrios, Commander of the Atlacatl BIRI, was in command of 
the units taking part. 

On 9 December, clashes took place between Government troops and the 
guerrillas. That same day, a company of the Atlacatl BIRI entered the town of 
Arambala. They rounded up the population in the town square and separated the 
men from the women and children. They locked the women and children in the 
church and ordered the men to lie face down in the square. A number of men were 
accused of being guerrilla collaborators. They were tied up, blindfolded and 
tortured. Residents later found the bodies of three of them, stabbed to death. 

In Cumaro canton as well, residents were rounded up in the main square by 
Atlacatl units on the morning of 10 December. There, however, no one was 
killed . 

There is sufficient evidence that units of the Atlacatl BIRI participated 
in all these actions. In the course of "Operacion Rescate", however, other mass 
executions were carried out by units which it has not been possible to identify 
with certainty. 

In all instances, troops acted in the same way: they killed anyone they 

came across, men, women and children, and then set fire to the houses. This is 
what happened in La Joya canton on 11 December, in the village of La Rancheria 
on 12 December, and in the village of Jocote Amarillo and Cerro Pando canton on 
13 December. 

Subsequent events 

The El Mozote massacre became public knowledge on 27 January 1982, when 
The New York Times and The Washington Post published articles by Raymond Bonner 
and Alma Guillermoprieto, respectively, reporting the massacre. In January, 
they had visited the scene of the massacre and had seen the bodies and the 
ruined houses. 


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In the course of the year, a number of human rights organizations denounced 
the massacre. The Salvadorian authorities categorically denied that a massacre 
had taken place. No judicial investigation was launched and there was no word 
of any investigation by the Government or the armed forces. 

On 26 October 1990, on a criminal complaint brought by Pedro Chicas Romero, 
criminal proceedings were instituted in the San Francisco Gotera Court of the 
First Instance. During the trial, which is still going on, statements were 
taken from witnesses for the prosecution; eventually, the remains were ordered 
exhumed, and this provided irrefutable evidence of the El Mozote massacre. The 
judge asked the Government repeatedly for a list of the officers who took part 
in the military operation. He received the reply that the Government did not 
have such information. 

The results of the exhumation 


The exhumation of the remains in the ruins of the little building known as 
the convent, adjacent to the El Mozote church, took place between 13 and 
17 November 1992. 

The material found in the convent was analysed by expert anthropologists 
and then studied in minute detail in the laboratories of the Santa Tecla 
Institute of Forensic Medicine and of the Commission for the Investigation of 
Criminal Acts by Dr. Clyde Snow (forensic anthropologist). 

Dr. Robert H. Kirschner (forensic pathologist). Dr. Douglas Scott (archaeologist 
and ballistics analyst), and Dr. John Fitzpatrick (radiologist), in 
collaboration with the Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropologists made up of 
Patricia Bernardi, Mercedes Doretti and Luis Fondebrider. 

The study made by the experts led to the following conclusions: 

1. "All the skeletons recovered from the site and the associated evidence 
were deposited during the same temporal event . . . " . 351 / The physical evidence 
recovered in the site excludes the possibility that the site could have been 
used as a clandestine cemetery in which the dead were placed at different times. 

2. "The events under investigation are unlikely to have occurred later 
than 1981". 352 / Coins and bullet cartridges bearing their date of manufacture 
were found in the convent. In no case was this date later than 1981. 

3. In the convent, bone remains of at least 143 people were found. 353 / 
However, the laboratory analysis indicates that "there may, in fact, have been a 
greater number of deaths. This uncertainty regarding the number of skeletons is 
a reflection of the extensive perimortem skeletal injuries, postmortem skeletal 
damage and associated commingling. Many young infants may have been entirely 
cremated; other children may not have been counted because of extensive 
fragmentation of body parts". 354 / 

4 . The bone remains and other evidence found in the convent show numerous 
signs of damage caused by crushing and by fire. 

5. Most of the victims were minors. 


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The experts determined, initially, after the exhumation, that "approximately 
85 per cent of the 117 victims were children under 12 years of age", 355 / and 
indicated that a more precise estimate of the victims' ages would be made in the 
laboratory. 356 / 

In the laboratory, the skeletal remains of 143 bodies were identified, 
including 131 children under the age of 12, 5 adolescents and 7 adults. The 
experts noted, in addition, that "the average age of the children was 
approximately 6 years". 357 / 

6. One of the victims was a pregnant woman. 358 / 

7. Although it could not be determined with certainty that all the 

victims were alive when they were brought into the convent, "it can be concluded 
that at least some of the victims were struck by bullets, with an effect that 

may well have been lethal, inside the building". 359 / 

This conclusion is based on various factors: 

(1) A "large quantity of bullet fragments [were] found inside the 

building ...". 360 / "Virtually all the ballistic evidence was found at level 3, 
in direct contact with or imbedded in the bone remains, clothing, household 
goods and floor of the building" . 361 / Moreover, "the spatial distribution of 
most of the bullet fragments coincides with the area of greatest concentration 
of skeletons and with concentrations of bone remains". 362 / Also, the second 
and third areas of concentration of bullet fragments coincide with the second 

and third areas of concentration of skeletons, respectively. 

(2) "Of 117 skeletons identified in the field, 67 were associated with 
bullet fragments. In 43 out of this subtotal of 67, the fragments were found in 
the areas of the skull and/or the thorax, i.e., parts of the body where they 
could have been the cause of death." 363 / 

(3) "In at least nine cases, the victims were shot inside the building 
while lying in a horizontal position on the floor. The shots were fired 
downwards. In at least six of the nine cases mentioned, these shots could have 
caused the victims' deaths." 364 / 

(4) "Direct skeletal examination showed intact gunshot wounds of entrance 
in only a few skulls because of the extensive fracturing that is 
characteristically associated with such high-velocity injuries. Skull 
reconstruction identified many more entrance wounds, but relatively few exit 
wounds. This is consistent with the ballistic evidence that the ammunition 
involved in the shootings was of a type likely to fragment upon impact, becoming 
essentially frangible bullets. Radiologic examination of skull bones 
demonstrated small metallic densities consistent with bullet fragments in 

45.2 per cent (51/115). 

In long bones, vertebrae, pelvis and ribs there were defects characteristic 
of high velocity gunshot wounds." 365 / 

(5) The weapons used to fire at the victims were M-16 rifles. 


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As the ballistics analyst described, "two hundred forty-five cartridge 
cases recovered from the El Mozote site were studied. Of these, 184 had 
discernible headstamps, identifying the ammunition as having been manufactured 
for the United States Government at Lake City, Missouri. Thirty-four cartridges 
were sufficiently well preserved to analyze for individual as well as class 
characteristics. All of the projectiles except one appear to have been fired 
from United States-manuf actured M-16 rifles". 366 / 

(6) At least 24 people participated in the shooting. 367 / They fired 
"from within the house, from the doorway, and probably through a window to the 
right of the door" . 368 / 

An important point that emerges from the results of the observations is 
that "no bullet fragments were found in the outside west facade of the stone 
wall". 369 / 

The evidence presented above is full proof that the victims were summarily 
executed, as the witnesses have testified. 

The experts who carried out the exhumation reached the following 
conclusion: "All these facts tend to indicate the perpetration of a massive 

crime, there being no evidence to support the theory of a confrontation between 
two groups". 370 / 

For their part, the experts who conducted the laboratory analysis said that 
"the physical evidence from the exhumation of the convent house at El Mozote 
confirms the allegations of a mass murder" . 371 / They went on to say, on the 
same point: "There is no evidence to support the contention that these victims, 

almost all young children, were involved in combat or were caught in the 
crossfire of combat forces. Rather the evidence strongly supports the 
conclusion that they were the intentional victims of a mass extra-judicial 
execution". 372 / 

Action by the Commission 

Before the Commission on the Truth began its work, the Director of the 
Human Rights Division of the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador 
(ONUSAL) brought a motion before the judge hearing the case to have qualified 
foreign experts appointed. 

The Commission on the Truth, from the moment it was set up, took a special 
interest in having the exhumation conducted under conditions that guaranteed the 
necessary scientific rigour and impartiality. 

The Commission also reviewed the available publications, documentation and 
court records. It took testimony directly from eyewitnesses and was present at 
the exhumation site. 

The Commission wrote three times to the Minister of Defence and once to the 
Chief of the Armed Forces Joint Staff requesting information about the units and 
officers who took part in "Operacion Rescate", and about any orders, reports or 
other documents relating to that operation that might be in the archives. The 
only response it received was that there were no records for that period. 


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Special mention must be made of the interference in the case by the 
President of the Supreme Court of El Salvador, Mr. Mauricio Gutierrez Castro. 
When on 17 July 1991 representatives of the Legal Protection Office asked the 
trial judge to appoint qualified foreign experts to conduct the exhumations, he 
told them that this would require the approval of Mr. Gutierrez Castro. It was 
not until nine months later, on 29 April 1992, after ONUSAL stepped in, that he 
proceeded to appoint them. 

On 16 July 1992, when the members of the Commission on the Truth went to 
see him, Mr. Gutierrez Castro said that the exhumation ordered by the trial 
judge would prove that "only dead guerrillas are buried" at El Mozote. 

A few days later, the court hearing the case ruled that its appointment of 
foreign experts was not valid without a complicated procedure of consultation 
with foreign Governments through the Supreme Court of Justice, with the result 
that the exhumation was on the point of going ahead without the presence of such 
experts . 

On 21 October, Mr. Mauricio Gutierrez Castro came to the exhumation site 
and, in giving his opinion on how future excavations in the zone should be 
carried out, said that care should be taken not to "favour one of the parties" 
(presumably the Government and FMLN) "because of the political implications of 
this process, which override legal considerations". 

FINDINGS 

There is full proof that on 11 December 1981, in the village of El Mozote, 
units of the Atlacatl Battalion deliberately and systematically killed a group 
of more than 200 men, women and children, constituting the entire civilian 
population that they had found there the previous day and had since been holding 
prisoner . 

The officers in command of the Atlacatl Battalion at the time of the 
operation whom the Commission has managed to identify are the following: 
Battalion Commander: Lieutenant Colonel Domingo Monterrosa Barrios (deceased); 

Commanding Officer: Major Natividad de Jesus Caceres Cabrera (now Colonel); 

Chief of Operations: Major Jose Armando Azmitia Melara (deceased); Company 

Commanders: Juan Ernesto Mendez Rodriguez (now Colonel); 

Roberto Alfonso Mendoza Portillo (deceased) ; Jose Antonio Rodriguez Molina (now 
Lieutenant Colonel), Captain Walter Oswaldo Salazar (now Lieutenant Colonel) and 
Jose Alfredo Jimenez (currently a fugitive from justice) . 

There is sufficient evidence that in the days preceding and following the 
El Mozote massacre, troops participating in "Operacion Rescate" massacred the 
non-combatant civilian population in La Joya canton, in the villages of 
La Rancheria, Jocote Amarillo y Los Toriles, and in Cerro Pando canton. 

Participating in this operation, in addition to the Atlacatl Battalion, 
were units of the Third Infantry Brigade, commanded by Colonel 

Jaime Florez Grijalba (now retired) who was also responsible for supervising the 
operation, and units from the San Francisco Gotera Commando Training Centre 
commanded by Colonel Alejandro Cisneros (now retired) . 


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Although it received news of the massacre, which would have been easy to 
corroborate because of the profusion of unburied bodies, the Armed Forces High 
Command did not conduct or did not give any word of an investigation and 
repeatedly denied that the massacre had occurred. There is full evidence that 
General Jose Guillermo Garcia, then Minister of Defence, initiated no 
investigations that might have enabled the facts to be established. There is 
sufficient evidence that General Rafael Florez Lima, Chief of the Armed Forces 
Joint Staff at the time, was aware that the massacre had occurred and also 
failed to undertake any investigation. 

The High Command also took no steps whatsoever to prevent the repetition of 
such acts, with the result that the same units were used in other operations and 
followed the same procedures. 

The El Mozote massacre was a serious violation of international 
humanitarian law and international human rights law. 

The President of the Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador, 

Mr. Mauricio Gutierrez Castro, has interfered unduly and prejudicially, for 
biased political reasons, in the ongoing judicial proceedings on the case. 

The Commission recommends that the competent authorities implement the 
recommendations made in the experts' reports (see annex 1) . 

2 . SUMPUL RIVER 
SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 14 May 1990, units of Military Detachment No. 1, the National Guard and 
the paramilitary Organizacion Nacional Democratica (ORDEN) deliberately killed 
at least 300 non-combatants, including women and children, who were trying to 
flee to Honduras across the Sumpul river beside the hamlet of Las Aradas, 
Department of Chalatenango . The massacre was made possible by the cooperation 
of the Honduran armed forces, who prevented the Salvadorian villagers from 
landing on the other side. 

The Salvadorian military operation had begun the previous day as an 
anti-guerrilla operation. Troops advanced from various points, gradually 
converging on the hamlet of Las Aradas on the banks of the Sumpul river. In the 
course of the operation, there had been a number of encounters with the 
guerrillas . 

There is sufficient evidence that, as they advanced. Government forces 
committed acts of violence against the population, and this caused numerous 
people to flee, many of whom congregated in the hamlet, consisting of some dozen 
houses . 

Troops attacked the hamlet with artillery and fire from two helicopters. 

The villagers and other people displaced by the operation attempted to cross the 
Sumpul river to take refuge in Honduras. Honduran troops deployed on the 
opposite bank of the river barred their way. They were then killed by 
Salvadorian troops who fired on them in cold blood. 


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DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 

Background 

In 1970, when the so-called "Soccer War" between Honduras and El Salvador 
ended, a demilitarized zone was established comprising a strip of land three 
kilometres wide on each side of the border. The zone was monitored by an 
observer mission of the Organization of American States. The armed forces of 
both countries were prohibited from entering the zone. 

When the conflict in El Salvador began, many Salvadorian peasants took 
refuge in Honduras, where they set up camps. When anti-guerrilla actions 
increased in early 1980, a large number of Salvadorian peasants crossed the 
border, leaving a number of villages, including Las Aradas, almost deserted. 

The Honduran Government became increasingly concerned as Salvadorian refugees 
entered and remained in Honduras. It should be recalled that one of the reasons 
for the war between the two countries had been the settlement of Salvadorian 
peasants in border areas in Honduran territory. 

The Salvadorian Government, for its part, believed that the demilitarized 
zone and Honduran territory were serving as a base of operations and a refuge 
for guerrillas whose activities had intensified in the adjacent area, in the 
north of the Department of Chalatenango . 

A large part of the peasant population in the zone also belonged to the 
Federacion de Trabajadores del Campo, which had joined the struggle for agrarian 
reform and was viewed by the Salvadorian Government as a guerrilla support 
organization . 

In the last two weeks of March 1980, Honduran authorities put pressure on 
the refugees to return to their country. A group of refugees returned to 
Las Aradas . 

Anti-guerrilla operations by the Government of El Salvador continued in the 
zone. After the villagers' return to Las Aradas and before the May massacre. 
National Guard and ORDEN troops, who were able to enter the zone freely, twice 
advanced as far as Las Aradas. On both occasions, residents fled across the 
river to Honduran territory. 

On 5 May, nine days before the massacre, Honduran and Salvadorian military 
leaders met on the border, according to the Honduran press, to work out a way of 
preventing Salvadorian guerrillas from entering Honduras. A few days later, 
Honduran soldiers again put pressure on Salvadorian refugees and a group of them 
returned to Las Aradas. 

When the operation which would lead to the massacre began a week later, 
many fleeing peasants converged on Las Aradas, confident that from there they 
would be able to cross the hanging bridge over the Sumpul river, which was 
running high because of the rainy season, and take refuge in Honduran territory. 
They also hoped that Salvadorian soldiers would not enter the demilitarized 
zone . 


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Subsequent events 

The armies of the two countries left the zone that same day. The National 
Guard continued to patrol the area to prevent residents from returning. The 
bodies were not buried. 

In Honduras, the massacre received extensive media coverage. The first 
news report was transmitted on 21 May by a morning news programme on Radio 
Noticias del Continente, which operates out of Costa Rica. A few days later, 
the newspaper Tiempo published an interview with Father Roberto Yalaga, a priest 
in the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copan, who confirmed that at least 
325 Salvadorians had been killed by the army and that a Honduran military 
detachment had cordoned off the bank of the Sumpul river. 

Two foreign journalists, Gabriel Sanhuesa and Ursula Ferdinand, managed to 
get to Las Aradas from the Honduran side and obtain visual evidence of the 
massacre. They also managed to interview a number of survivors who had taken 
refuge in Honduran border villages. They published a leaflet on the incident. 

A formal complaint about the massacre was filed by the priests and nuns of 
the Honduran diocese of Santa Rosa de Copan on 19 June 1980, signed by the 
diocese's 38 pastoral workers. The complaint was based on the visual evidence 
and the testimony gathered by the diocese as part of its investigations. 

The complaint accused the Government and the armed forces of the Republic 
of Honduras of complicity in the massacre and in the subsequent cover-up and the 
Organization of American States (OAS) of complicity in covering up the tragic 
event. This accusation was endorsed by the entire Honduran Conference of 
Bishops, headed by the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Monsignor Hector E. Santos, in 
a statement published by the press on 1 July 1980. From El Salvador, the 
Archdiocese of San Salvador endorsed and associated itself with the complaint by 
the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copan, in a communique published on 29 June 1980. 

The Minister of Defence of El Salvador, General Jose Guillermo Garcia, 
denied that the massacre had occurred. A year later, in an interview, he 
admitted that a number of people had died in a clash on 14 May 1980 at the 
Sumpul river, but said that the number of deaths had been greatly 
exaggerated. 373 / 

In October 1980, President Jose Napoleon Duarte, in an interview with the 
Canadian publication United Church Observer , acknowledged that a military 
operation had taken place in the Sumpul river area and said that some 
300 people, all of them "communist guerrillas", had died. 374 / 

The charges made by the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copan were also denied in 
an official statement issued by the Government and armed forces of Honduras 
describing the accusations as libellous and irresponsible. 375 / The Honduran 
President, Policarpo Paz, denied the truth of the complaint in a speech 
broadcast on national radio and television. The Minister of Government, 

Colonel Cristobal Diaz Garcia, told the press that Honduras would not set up any 
commission of investigation. Replying to a question, he said that no one 
doubted that there had been a massacre on the other side of the river, but that 
Honduras had not been involved. 


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Colonel Alfonso Rodriguez Rincon, Chief of the OAS observers, dismissed the 
accusation by the Honduran Church as the product of an overactive imagination. 

He said that as Chief of the observers, he could confirm that they had known 
nothing about the incident. He added that there were numerous operations on the 
Salvadorian side and it was conceivable that many guerrillas had been killed; he 
wondered whether the incident was perhaps being confused with another one. 

However, the Commission found out that OAS observers did report a major 
clash between Salvadorian troops and FMLN guerrillas as having occurred between 
14 and 16 May 1980 on the border in that region. According to their report, 
over 200 people had been killed and some civilians had been caught in the 
crossfire, but there was no evidence that innocent civilians had been massacred. 

On 26 October 1992, surviving witnesses of the Sumpul river massacre filed 
a judicial complaint with the Chalatenango Court of First Instance, which was 
declared admissible under the title "on verifying the murder of 
600 people". 376 / 

Action taken by the Commission 

The Commission received some 100 direct testimonies on the incident and 
examined an equivalent number of testimonies presented to other organizations. 

It examined the documentation available, including photographs, and interviewed 
the original complainants. A Commission official travelled to Honduras to 
gather direct testimony. Members of the Commission personally inspected the 
scene of the massacre. 

The Commission repeatedly requested the cooperation of the Salvadorian 
military authorities in conducting the investigation, but the only reply it 
received was that there were no records for that period. The Commander of 
Military Detachment No. 1 at the time. Colonel Ricardo Augusto Pena Arbaiza, was 
summonsed to testify but did not appear. 

FINDINGS 

There is substantial evidence that on 13 and 14 May 1980, troops from 
Military Detachment No. 1 and members of the National Guard and of the 
paramilitary Organizacion Nacional Democratica (ORDEN) , backed by the air force, 
massacred no less than 300 unarmed civilians on the banks of the Sumpul river. 

The Commission believes that the Salvadorian military authorities were 
guilty of a cover-up of the incident. There is sufficient evidence that 
Colonel Ricardo Augusto Pena Arbaiza, Commander of Military Detachment No. 1 in 
May 1980, made no serious investigation of the incident. 

The Sumpul river massacre was a serious violation of international 
humanitarian law and international human rights law. 


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3 . EL CALABOZO 
SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 22 August 1982, in the place known as El Calabozo situated beside the 
Amatitan river in the north of the Department of San Vicente, troops of the 
Atlacatl Rapid Deployment Infantry Battalion (BIRI) killed over 200 men, women 
and children whom they were holding prisoner. 

The victims had converged on El Calabozo from various directions, fleeing a 
vast anti-guerrilla military operation which had begun three days earlier in the 
area of Los Cerros de San Pedro and which involved, in addition to the Atlacatl 
BIRI, other infantry, artillery and aerial support units. 

There was a major guerrilla presence, supported by the local population, in 
the area of the operation. Government forces had penetrated the area on earlier 
occasions, but the guerrillas had avoided combat. This time the operation, 
which bore the name "Teniente Coronel Mario Azenon Palma", involved some 
6,000 troops and was designed to clear the area of guerrillas. As the troops 
advanced, the civilian population fled, fearing the shelling and the soldiers' 
violence. One of the places where a large number of fugitives congregated was 
El Calabozo. 

According to witnesses, the fugitives were surprised by the Atlacatl 
Battalion unit. Some of them managed to escape; the rest were rounded up and 
machine-gunned . 

The military operation continued for several more days. The Government 
informed the public that it had been a success: many guerrillas had been 

killed, camps had been destroyed and weapons and other supplies had been seized. 

On 8 September, two weeks after the incident, the massacre was reported in 
The Washington Post . The Minister of Defence, General Jose Guillermo Garcia, 
said that an investigation had been made and that no massacre had occurred. He 
repeated this assertion in an interview with the Commission. 

In July 1992, the San Sebastian Mixed Court of First Instance launched a 
judicial investigation of the incident on the basis of a private complaint. 

The Commission received eye witness testimony and examined available 
documentation. Commission members inspected the scene of the massacre. When 
the Commission requested information on the military operation, the units which 
had taken part in it and the outcome of the alleged investigation, the Minister 
of Defence replied that there were no records for that period. 

FINDINGS 

There is sufficient evidence that on 22 August 1982, troops of the Atlacatl 
Battalion deliberately killed over 200 civilians - men, women and children - who 
had been taken prisoner without offering any resistance. The incident occurred 
at the place known as El Calabozo, near the canton of Amatitan Abajo, Department 
of San Vicente. 


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Although the massacre was reported publicly, the Salvadorian authorities 
denied it. Despite their claim to have made an investigation, there is 
absolutely no evidence that such an investigation took place. 

The El Calabozo massacre was a serious violation of international 
humanitarian law and international human rights law. 

4 . PATTERN OF CONDUCT 

In addition to the massacres described here, the Commission received direct 
testimony concerning numerous other mass executions that occurred during the 
years 1980, 1981 and 1982, in which members of the armed forces, in the course 
of anti-guerrilla operations, executed peasants - men, women and children who 
had offered no resistance - simply because they considered them to be guerrilla 
collaborators . 

Because the number of such individual and group executions is so high and 
the reports are so thoroughly substantiated, the Commission rules out any 
possibility that these might have been isolated incidents where soldiers or 
their immediate superiors went to extremes. 

Everything points to the fact that these deaths formed part of a pattern of 
conduct, a deliberate strategy of eliminating or terrifying the peasant 
population in areas where the guerrillas were active, the purpose being to 
deprive the guerrilla forces of this source of supplies and information and of 
the possibility of hiding or concealing themselves among that population. 

It is impossible to blame this pattern of conduct on local commanders and 
to claim that senior commanders did not know anything about it. As we have 
described, massacres of the peasant population were reported repeatedly. There 
is no evidence that any effort was made to investigate them. The authorities 
dismissed these reports as enemy propaganda. Were it not for the children's 
skeletons at El Mozote, some people would still be disputing that such massacres 
took place. 

Those small skeletons are proof not only of the existence of the 
cold-blooded massacre at El Mozote but also of the collusion of senior 
commanders of the armed forces, for they show that the evidence of the unburied 
bodies was there for a long time for anyone who wanted to investigate the facts. 
In this case, we cannot accept the excuse that senior commanders knew nothing of 
what had happened. 

No action was taken to avoid incidents such as this. On the contrary, the 
deliberate, systematic and indiscriminate violence against the peasant 
population in areas of military operations went on for years. 


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D. DEATH SQUAD ASSASSINATIONS 

T. ILLUSTRATIVE CASE: ARCHBISHOP ROMERO 

SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 24 March 1980, the Archbishop of San Salvador, Monsignor 
Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez, was assassinated while celebrating mass in the 
Chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia. 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. Former Major Roberto D'Aubuisson gave the order to assassinate the 
Archbishop and gave precise instructions to members of his security service, 
acting as a "death squad", to organize and supervise the assassination. 

2. Captains Alvaro Saravia and Eduardo Avila, together with 
Fernando Sagrera and Mario Molina, were actively involved in planning and 
carrying out the assassination. 

3. Amado Antonio Garay, the driver of former Captain Saravia, was 
assigned to drive the gunman to the Chapel. Mr. Garay was a direct witness 
when, from a red, four-door Volkswagen, the gunman fired a single high velocity 
.22 calibre bullet to kill the Archbishop. 

4. Walter Antonio "Musa" Alvarez, together with former Captain Saravia, 
was involved in paying the "fees" of the actual assassin. 

5. The failed assassination attempt against Judge Atilio Ramirez Amaya 
was a deliberate attempt to deter investigation of the case. 

6. The Supreme Court played an active role in preventing the extradition 
of former Captain Saravia from the United States and his subsequent imprisonment 
in El Salvador. In so doing, it ensured, inter alia , impunity for those who 
planned the assassination. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 377 / 

The assassination 


On Monday, 24 March 1980, the Archbishop of San Salvador, Monsignor 
Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez, was celebrating mass 378 / in the Chapel of the 
Hospital de la Divina Providencia 379 / when he was killed by a professional 
assassin who fired a single .22 or .223 calibre bullet from a red, four-door 
Volkswagen vehicle. The bullet hit its mark, causing the Archbishop's death 
from severe bleeding. 

Background 

Monsignor Romero had become a well-known critic of violence and injustice 
and, as such, was perceived in right-wing civilian and military circles as a 
dangerous enemy. His sermons deeply irritated these circles because they 
included human rights violations produced by the Archdiocesan Legal Aid Office. 


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As a result, members of the Government and the armed forces viewed his 
actions as favouring subversives. 

Newspapers criticized him in unequivocally hostile terms, such as "... a 
demagogic and violent Archbishop . . . (who) preached terrorism from his 
cathedral ...", 380 / or "... the armed forces should begin to oil their 
weapons (...)". 381 / 

In his sermon on 17 February 1980, he expressed opposition to United States 
military aid to El Salvador, pointing out that "(...) neither the (Government) 
Junta nor the Christian Democrats govern this country. Political power is in 
the hands of the armed forces which are unscrupulous in their use of this power. 
They only know how to repress the people and defend the interests of the 
Salvadorian oligarchy (...)". 382 / 

That same month, he received death threats 383 / and therefore decided that 
his colleagues should not accompany him when he went out, so as not to expose 
themselves to unnecessary risks. 384 / On Monday, 10 March, the day after he had 
celebrated a mass for Mario Zamora, assassinated on 23 February, 385 / an attache 
case was found near the High Altar behind the pulpit, 386 / which the Explosives 
and Demolition Unit of the National Police found to contain a bomb that had 
failed to go off. 387 / 

In his sermon on Sunday, 23 March, the Archbishop appealed to Salvadorian 
soldiers themselves: "... I beseech you, I beg you, I order you, in the name of 

God, to stop the repression!". 388 / 

The official investigation 

The investigation to determine who was responsible for the Archbishop' s 
assassination was not only inefficient but also highly controversial and plagued 
by political motivations. Some of the main elements which the Commission took 
into account in its own investigation are described below. 

Initial inquiries and incidents 

The National Police went to the Chapel of the Hospital de la Divina 
Providencia to gather evidence. They did not do this properly, however, since 
they failed to collect material evidence of the crime at the scene. 

Atilio Ramirez Amaya, the Judge of the Fourth Criminal Court, gave 
instructions for the Salvadorian Polyclinic to perform an autopsy on the 
prelate: a small entry wound barely 5 millimetres in diameter in the right 

thorax indicated the point of entry of the bullet. It had fragmented without 
exiting the Archbishop's body, causing fatal internal bleeding. Three fragments 
of the bullet were extracted for further study. 389 / Judge Ramirez Amaya 
maintained that the bullet used must have been a .22 or similar. 390 / Going by 
the weight of the fragments, the National Police confirmed that the bullet was a 
.22 calibre but did not reach any more precise conclusions. 391 / Following an 
attempt to assassinate him at his home on 27 March, Judge Ramirez Amaya tendered 
his resignation and left the country. 392 / 


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The "Saravia Diary" and other documents found at the San Luis estate 

On 7 May 1980, in a raid on the San Luis estate in Santa Tecla, 12 active 
and retired military personnel and 12 civilians, 393 / including former 
Major Roberto D'Aubuisson, who had gathered there were arrested and formally 
accused of plotting to overthrow the Government by means of a coup d'etat. 394 / 

The documents seized during the raid included a "List of accusations made 
by a South American informant against Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop 
of San Salvador. Informant is prepared to provide filmed and written evidence 
within a period not exceeding 15 days", 395 / a diary belonging to former Captain 
Alvaro Rafael Saravia and two lists of names of commanders and officers (of the 
Salvadorian armed forces) . 396 / 

The "Saravia Diary" contained various important pieces of information 
concerning the assassination of Monsignor Romero. It referred to purchases and 
deliveries of large quantities of arms and ammunition, some of which, based on 
the ballistic study made by Judge Ramirez Amaya, were of the type used in the 
assassination. 397 / In addition, several names which appeared over and over 
again in the diary were of people concerning whose involvement in planning, 
carrying out or covering up the assassination the Commission has already 
received sufficient evidence. 398 / Other details include the name "Amado" - 
Amado Garay, the driver assigned to drive the assassin - and receipts for petrol 
purchased for a red vehicle used by former Captain Saravia. 

A third document, entitled "General Framework for the Organization of the 
Anti-Marxist Struggle in El Salvador", reflected the approach and objectives of 
the San Luis group. Their goal was to seize power in El Salvador and their 
political plan provided for "direct action", so-called "activities of combat 
networks", including "attacks on selected individuals". 399 / 

None of the documents seized at the San Luis estate was made available to 
the Judge of the Fourth Criminal Court, and it was only years later that the 
court gained access to a copy of the diary. The Judge's efforts to locate the 
original diary proved unsuccessful. 

The accusations by former Major D'Aubuisson 

In March 1984, former Major Roberto D'Aubuisson appeared on television 
during the presidential election campaign and showed a recording of an alleged 
FMLN commander, "Pedro Lobo", confessing to having been an accomplice in the 
assassination of Monsignor Romero. Almost immediately, "Pedro Lobo" was 
identified as a common criminal who had been in prison from 1979 to 1981. 400 / 

He said that he had been offered US$ 50,000 to claim responsibility for the 
assassination. 401 / Former Major D'Aubuisson nevertheless continued to insist 
that the guerrillas had assassinated Monsignor Romero, 402 / and officially the 
armed forces continue to hold to this position. 403 / 

The work of the Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts 

The Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts (CIHD) began its 
investigation into Monsignor Romero's assassination in January 1986. 404 / 


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In November 1987, Amado Antonio Garay, one of the San Luis detainees and 
former Captain Alvaro Saravia' s driver revealed that on 24 March 1980, Saravia 
had ordered him to drive a red Volkswagen to the Hospital de la Divina 
Providencia in the Miramonte district. He had parked opposite the Chapel. His 
passenger, a bearded stranger, had ordered him to crouch down and pretend to be 
repairing something. He had heard a shot, turned around and seen the individual 
"holding a gun with both hands pointing towards the right side of the rear right 
window of the vehicle (...)". He had immediately smelt gunpowder and at that 
moment the bearded man had calmly told him: "drive slowly, take it easy" and 

they had driven off. 405 / 

Garay alleged that he had driven the individual to former Captain Saravia, 
to whom the stranger had said "mission accomplished" . Three days later, Garay 
had driven Saravia to a house where former Major D'Aubuisson was and Saravia had 
said in front of D'Aubuisson: "We've already done what we planned about killing 

Monsignor Arnulfo Romero". 406 / 

The Attorney General's Office presented Garay to make a statement to 
Judge Ricardo Alberto Zamora Perez on 20 November 1987. Based on the 
description of the gunman provided by Garay 407 / and the investigation of places 
mentioned by the witness, 408 / on 24 November the judge ordered the arrest of 
former Captain Saravia 409 / and officially requested the Central Board of 
Elections to certify the status of former Major D'Aubuisson as a member of the 
Legislative Assembly, the first step towards requesting that his parliamentary 
immunity be withdrawn and that he appear in court. 410 / 

Saravia filed a writ of habeas corpus , on which the Supreme Court took a 
year to rule. In December 1988, the Supreme Court ruled that "(...) the 
aforementioned testimony (of Garay) is invalid (...) the witness made his 
statement seven years, seven months and 24 days after the event about which he 
is testifying, (which) makes his testimony lose all credibility (...)". It also 
took the view that the Attorney General did not have the power to request 
extradition. 411 / 

The accusation of the alleged gunman 

CIHD made other investigations. Garay picked out a 1969 photograph 412 / of 
Mr. Hector Antonio Regalado with a beard drawn in as being closest to his 
description of the gunman. After Saravia, Regalado had been responsible for 
D' Aubuisson' s personal security. 413 / When he appeared before the Commission, 
Regalado denied having fired the shot. CIHD found no convincing evidence that 
he had participated in the assassination. 

The investigation by the Commission on the Truth 

The Commission on the Truth had access to sufficient evidence to find that: 

Former Major Roberto D'Aubuisson, former Captain Alvaro Saravia and 
Fernando Sagrera 414 / were present on 24 March 1980 at the home of 
Alejandro Caceres in San Salvador. Captain Eduardo Avila arrived and told them 
that Archbishop Romero would be celebrating a mass that day. Captain Avila said 
that this would be a good opportunity to assassinate the Archbishop. 

D'Aubuisson ordered that this be done and put Saravia in charge of the 


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operation. When it was pointed out that a sniper would be needed. Captain Avila 
said he would contact one through Mario Molina. Amado Garay was assigned to 
drive the assassin to the Chapel. 

The parking lot of the Camino Real Hotel was the assembly point before 
proceeding to the Chapel. There, the bearded gunman, carrying the murder 
weapon, got into a red, four-door Volkswagen driven by Garay. At least two 
vehicles drove from the Camino Real Hotel to the scene of the crime. Outside 
the main entrance to the Chapel, the assassin fired a single bullet from the 
vehicle, killing Archbishop Romero. D'Aubuisson ordered that 1,000 colones be 
handed over to Walter Antonio "Musa" Alvarez, who received the payment in 
question, as did the bearded assassin. Alvarez was abducted in September 1981 
and was found dead not long afterwards. 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is full evidence that: 

(a) Former Major Roberto D'Aubuisson gave the order to assassinate the 
Archbishop and gave precise instructions to members of his security service, 
acting as a "death squad", to organize and supervise the assassination. 

(b) Captains Alvaro Saravia and Eduardo Avila, together with 
Fernando Sagrera and Mario Molina, were actively involved in planning and 
carrying out the assassination. 

(c) Amado Antonio Garay, the driver of former Captain Saravia, was 
assigned to drive the gunman to the Chapel. Mr. Garay was a direct witness 
when, from a red, four-door Volkswagen, the gunman fired a single high velocity 
.22 bullet to kill the Archbishop. 

2. There is sufficient evidence that Walter Antonio "Musa" Alvarez, 
together with former Captain Saravia, was involved in paying the "fees" of the 
actual assassin. 

3. There is sufficient evidence that the failed assassination attempt 
against Judge Atilio Ramirez Amaya was a deliberate attempt to deter 
investigation of the case. 

4. There is full evidence that the Supreme Court played an active role in 
preventing the extradition of former Captain Saravia from the United States and 
his subsequent imprisonment in El Salvador. In so doing, it ensured, 

inter alia , impunity for those who planned the assassination. 

2 . THE DEATH SQUAD PATTERN 

The Commission on the Truth received a great many complaints of serious 
acts of violence allegedly perpetrated by death squads. The direct testimony 
received concerns a total of 817 victims of abductions, disappearances and 
executions that occurred between 1980 and 1991. 415/ 


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There is no question that what have been classified as murders committed by 
the death squads in rural areas account for a significant proportion of all 
killings in El Salvador between 1980 and 1991. The Commission on the Truth has 
obtained extensive information from the testimony of many witnesses, including 
several members of the armed forces and civilian members of the death squads, 
who admitted and gave details of their involvement at the highest levels in the 
organization, operation and financing of the death squads. 

The undeniable impact of the extensive evidence received about the death 
squads leads us to share the fervent conviction of the Salvadorian people that 
it is crucial not only to comprehend the scope of this phenomenon in El Salvador 
but also to inform the international community about what it was that, by 
commission or omission, caused the death squads to insinuate themselves so 
perniciously into the formal State structure. Decisive action is needed to root 
out this infamous phenomenon that has so grievously compromised human rights. 

Between 1980 and 1991, human rights violations were committed in a 
systematic and organized manner by groups acting as death squads. The members 
of such groups usually wore civilian clothing, were heavily armed, operated 
clandestinely and hid their affiliation and identity. They abducted members of 
the civilian population and of rebel groups. They tortured their hostages, were 
responsible for their disappearance and usually executed them. 416 / 

The death squads, in which members of State structures were actively 
involved or to which they turned a blind eye, gained such control that they 
ceased to be an isolated or marginal phenomenon and became an instrument of 
terror used systematically for the physical elimination of political opponents. 
Many of the civilian and military authorities in power during the 1980s 
participated in, encouraged and tolerated the activities of these groups. 
Although there is no evidence of latent structures for these clandestine 
organizations, they could be reactivated when those in high Government circles 
issue warnings that might trigger the resumption of a dirty war in El Salvador. 
Since the death squad phenomenon was the problem par excellence of that dirty 
war which ultimately destroyed all vestiges of the rule of law during the armed 
conflict, the Salvadorian Government must not only be ready and willing to 
prevent the resurgence of this phenomenon but also seek international 
cooperation in eradicating it completely. 417 / 

Origins and history 

El Salvador has a long history of violence committed by groups that are 
neither part of the Government nor ordinary criminals. For decades, it has been 
a fragmented society with a weak system of justice and a tradition of impunity 
for officials and members of the most powerful families who commit abuses. At 
the same time, it is a country with little land, a large population and 
tremendous social tensions. All this has helped create a climate in which 
violence has been a part of everyday life. 

Violence has formed part of the exercise of official authority, directly 
guided by State officials. This has been reflected, throughout the country's 
history, in a pattern of conduct within the Government and power elites of using 
violence as a means to control civilian society. The roots of this situation 
run deep. In the past 150 years, a number of uprisings by peasants and 


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indigenous groups have been violently suppressed by the State and by civilian 
groups armed by landowners. 

A kind of complicity developed between businessmen and landowners, who 
entered into a close relationship with the army and intelligence and security 
forces. The aim was to ferret out alleged subversives among the civilian 
population in order to defend the country against the threat of an alleged 
foreign conspiracy. When controlling internal subversion became a priority for 
defending the State, repression increased. 

There were several stages in the process of formation of the death squads 
in this century. The National Guard was created and organized in 1910 and the 
following years. From its inception, members cooperated actively with large 
landowners, at times going so far as to crack down brutally on the peasant 
leagues and other rural groups that threatened their interests. 

Local National Guard commanders "offered their services" or hired out 
guardsmen to protect landowners' material interests. The practice of using the 
services of "paramilitary personnel", chosen and armed by the army or the large 
landowners, began soon afterwards. They became a kind of "intelligence network" 
against "subversives" or a "local instrument of terror". 

In other words, from virtually the beginning of the century, a Salvadorian 
State security force, through a misperception of its true function, was directed 
against the bulk of the civilian population. In 1932, National Guard members, 
the army and paramilitary groups, with the collaboration of local landowners, 
carried out a massacre known as "La Matanza", in which they murdered at least 
10,000 peasants in the western part of the country in order to put down a rural 
insurrection . 

Between 1967 and 1979, General Jose Alberto Medrano, who headed the 
National Guard, organized the paramilitary group known as ORDEN. 418 / The 
function of this organization was to identify and eliminate alleged communists 
among the rural population. He also organized the national intelligence agency, 
ANSESAL. These institutions helped consolidate an era of military hegemony in 
El Salvador, sowing terror selectively among alleged subversives identified by 
the intelligence services. In this way, the army's domination over civilian 
society was consolidated through repression in order to keep society under 
control. During those years of military dictatorship, the Government kept 
itself in power basically by using "selective violence". 

The reformist coup by young military officers in 1979 ushered in a new 
period of intense violence. Various circles in the armed forces and the private 
sector vied for control of the repressive apparatus. Hundreds and even 
thousands of people perceived as supporters or active members of a growing 
guerrilla movement - the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional 
(FMLN) - were murdered. Members of the army, the Treasury Police, the National 
Guard and the National Police formed "squads" to do away with enemies. Private 
and semi-official groups also set up their own squads or linked up with existing 
structures within the armed forces. 

The Commission on the Truth received testimony describing this phenomenon 
of local violence, such as that which occurred in the village of Cojutepeque and 


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in the towns of San Rafael de los Cedros, El Rosario and Monte San Juan in the 
south-eastern part of the Department of Cuscatlan. In this area, civil defence 
forces, soldiers from the local military detachment, members of the National 
Guard and civilian members of ORDEN took part in death squads that killed 
hundreds of people. In the Second Court of Cojutepeque, the judge showed the 
court register for 1980, which listed 141 cases of homicide. He said that 2,000 
people had been murdered in the Department of Cuscatlan that year and that 
probably less than 20 per cent of those murders had been registered in court. 

It should be said that, while it is possible to differentiate the armed 
forces death squads from the civilian death squads, the borderline between the 
two was often blurred. For instance, even the death squads that were not 
organized as part of any State structure were often supported or tolerated by 
State institutions. Frequently, death squads operated in coordination with the 
armed forces and acted as a support structure for their activities. The 
clandestine nature of these activities made it possible to conceal the State's 
responsibility for them and created an atmosphere of complete impunity for the 
murderers who worked in the squads. This mentality and actual exercise of 
impunity is a danger for Salvadorian society. 

Two cases illustrate the composition and operation of the death squads 
during this stage: the group around Major D'Aubuisson and the death squads that 
operated out of the S-II or C-II intelligence sections of military institutions. 
The Commission on the Truth considers it appropriate to describe these two 
groups because their activities caused anxiety, fear and great harm to civilian 
society in El Salvador. These, of course, were not the only death squads active 
in the country. 

THE GROUP HEADED BY FORMER MAJOR D'AUBUISSON 

The 1979 coup d'etat altered the political landscape in El Salvador. 419 / 
One of the competing factions directly affected by the coup was a core of 
military officers who sought to pre-empt the groups that had staged the coup and 
also any reform movement. 420 / They considered the Government Junta to be 
"infiltrated by Marxist officers, which could be fatal for the independence and 
freedom of the Salvadorian fatherland if the anti-communists in the population 
failed to act". 421 / The leader of this faction was former 
Major Roberto D'Aubuisson, who up until 1979 had been third in command of 
ANSESAL and who, on being retired, kept part of the agency's archives. 

Former Major D'Aubuisson drew considerable support from wealthy civilians 
who feared that their interests would be affected by the reform programme 
announced by the Government Junta. They were convinced that the country faced a 
serious threat of Marxist insurrection which they had to overcome. The 
Commission on the Truth obtained testimony from many sources that some of the 
richest landowners and businessmen inside and outside the country offered their 
estates, homes, vehicles and bodyguards to help the death squads. They also 
provided the funds used to organize and maintain the squads, especially those 
directed by former Major D'Aubuisson. 

As the social conflict in El Salvador intensified, subversive operations 
increased. D'Aubuisson was well placed to provide a link between a very 
aggressive sector of Salvadorian society and the intelligence network and 


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operations of the S-II sections of the security forces. He was virtually 
catapulted to undisputed national political leadership of the only faction 
capable "of preventing a left-wing takeover". 422 / He then opted for applying 
what he saw as the only method used by the subversives: the illegal use of 
force. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", as the saying goes. 

D'Aubuisson arranged meetings between powerful civilians and economic 
interests and groups in the armed forces, thereby combining two elements in a 
strategic relationship: the input of resources (money, vehicles, weapons, 

homes, etc.) by civilians and the definition of a political line for the 
operations of the S-II intelligence sections. This gave political meaning and 
purpose to the attacks on and intimidation of civilian opponents and individuals 
suspected of collaborating with or belonging to the guerrilla movement. 

For D'Aubuisson, having access to intelligence reports was of the utmost 
importance, because it served the cause and the functioning of his political 
plans. He lost no opportunity to infiltrate the security forces and the armed 
forces and elicit information from them. In line with D' Aubuisson' s political 
project, all such information was used for "direct action", which explicitly 
included assassination attempts on individuals, abductions, "recovery of funds" 
and sabotage. 423 / 

After the assassination of Monsignor Romero, which, in very closed circles, 
D'Aubuisson took credit for having planned (see the case of the assassination of 
Archbishop Romero) , his prestige and influence grew among the groups that 
wielded economic power, gaining him further support and resources. The San Luis 
estate incident and his temporary stay in Guatemala did not interrupt his 
political plans, since it was in Guatemala that he was able to establish 
contacts with internationally linked anti-communist networks and organizations 
and individual anti-communists such as Mario Sandoval Alarcon, Luis Mondizabal 
and Ricardo Lao. 

From Guatemala, D'Aubuisson continued to plan and direct numerous attacks 
by groups identified as "death squads" and, on his return to El Salvador, had 
access to sources which kept him permanently supplied with abundant, up-to-date 
intelligence information from most armed units or territorial districts, whose 
leaders shared his political views. They also offered him actual logistical 
support for his activities, seconding and rotating troops for his personal 
protection and supplying weapons. 

Although members of the Armed Forces Joint Staff knew about this steady 
leak of information, not only was nothing ever done to control it but 
intelligence leaks were even organized intentionally: in fact, there were 

serving members of the armed forces who participated actively in D' Aubuisson' s 
group . 

There is substantial evidence that D'Aubuisson operated during this period 
through concealed channels in which civilians and both serving and discharged 
members of the armed forces mixed politics, murder and the defence of their own 
economic interests in their zeal to combat both the peaceful and the armed 
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One of those closest to D'Aubuisson was his Chief of Security, 

Hector Antonio Regalado. The Commission on the Truth obtained sufficient 
evidence to conclude that Regalado not only formed his own death squad in the 
town of Santiago de Maria but also used to coordinate and train D' Aubuisson' s 
networks in the capital. Regalado ran D' Aubuisson' s death squad from his office 
in the National Assembly, where he was Chief of Security when D'Aubuisson was 
President of the Assembly. 424 / 

DEATH SQUADS OPERATING IN THE S-II INTELLIGENCE SECTIONS 

In many armed forces units, the intelligence section (S-II) operated on the 
death squad model. Operations were carried out by members of the armed forces, 
usually wearing civilian clothing, without insignias, and driving unmarked 
vehicles . 

The Salvadorian armed forces also maintained within the Joint Staff under 
Department 5 - Civilian Affairs, a secret, clandestine intelligence unit for the 
surveillance of civilian political targets, which received information from the 
S-II sections of each military unit or security force. The purpose of this unit 
was to obtain information for the planning of direct actions that included the 
"elimination" of individuals. In some cases, such plans were transmitted as 
actual orders to operational units in the various security forces or the armed 
forces themselves. 

The following is only one example of the many death squads of this kind. 

The death squads of the National Guard Intelligence Section 

Testimony and information received by the Commission on the Truth from 
former members of the S-II section of the National Guard show that the murder of 
Rodolfo Viera, President of the Salvadorian Institute for Agrarian Reform 
(ISTA), and two United States advisers in January 1981 was not an isolated 
event. Members of this section, with the complicity of economically influential 
civilians, operated as a death squad dedicated to eliminating political 
opponents and people considered to be supporters of the armed left wing. 

A group of extreme right-wing civilians that included Hans Christ, 

Ricardo Sol Meza, Constantino Rampone and Ernest Panama acted as "advisers" to 
the S-II section of the National Guard and influenced its work. They often 
visited headquarters to meet with the Chief of Section II, 

Major Mario Denis Moran, and his second-in-command. Lieutenant 
Isidro Lopez Sibrian. On various occasions, they provided money and weapons. 
There is also evidence and testimony that Argentine nationals frequented S-II 
headquarters and were commissioned by the above-mentioned group of civilians to 
carry out assignments that included murders. 

Information from a wide variety of sources also indicates that Major Moran, 
Lieutenant Lopez Sibrian and Captain Eduardo Avila - all three of whom held 
leadership positions in the S-II were connected with it - were members of death 
squads with links to the civilians mentioned. 

The Intelligence Section had subsections such as operations and 
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charge of "dirty work", which specialized in interrogations, torture and 
executions. This group enjoyed the full confidence of its superiors and acted 
as a special corps in the service of Moran and Lopez Sibrian, who were numbers 
one and two respectively in the S-II. This group comprised, inter alia , 

Rodolfo Orellana Osorio, Enoc Abel Campos ("Heidi"), 

Rene Mauricio Cruz Gonzalez, Oscar Reinaldo Bonilla Monge and 
Mario Ernesto Aparicio. The group did not observe the hierarchical chain of 
command but took orders only from Moran and Lopez Sibrian, and its members came 
and went at will. 

FINDINGS 

Because of the clandestine nature of their operations, it is not easy to 
establish all the links existing between private businessmen and the death 
squads. However, the Commission on the Truth has absolutely no doubt that a 
close relationship existed, or that the possibility that businessmen or members 
of moneyed families might feel the need and might be able to act with impunity 
in financing murderous paramilitary groups, as they did in the past, poses a 
threat to the future of Salvadorian society. 

At the same time, it must be pointed out that the United States Government 
tolerated, and apparently paid little official heed to the activities of 
Salvadorian exiles living in Miami, especially between 1979 and 1983. According 
to testimony received by the Commission, this group of exiles directly financed 
and indirectly helped run certain death squads. It would be useful if other 
investigators with more resources and more time were to shed light on this 
tragic story so as to ensure that persons linked to terrorist acts in other 
countries are never tolerated again in the United States. 

1. The State of El Salvador, through the activities of members of the 
armed forces and/or civilian officials, is responsible for having taken part in, 
encouraged and tolerated the operations of the death squads which illegally 
attacked members of the civilian population. 

2. Salvadorian institutions must make serious efforts to investigate the 
structural connection that has been found to exist between the death squads and 
State bodies. The fact that there are hundreds of former civil defence members 
in rural areas who are still armed is particular cause for concern. These 
people could easily mobilize to commit new acts of violence in future if they 
are not clearly identified and disarmed. 

3. It is especially important to call attention to the repeated abuses 
committed by the intelligence services of the security forces and the armed 
forces. It is crucial for the future of El Salvador that the State pay 
attention to the use of intelligence services and to the exploitation of this 
arm of the Government to identify targets for murder or disappearance. Any 
investigation must result both in an institutional clean-up of the intelligence 
services and in the identification of those responsible for this aberrant 
practice . 

4. The lack of effective action by the judicial system was a factor that 
reinforced the impunity that shielded and continues to shield members and 
promoters of the death squads in El Salvador. 


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5. The links of some private businessmen and moneyed families to the 
funding and use of death squads must be clarified. 

6. The Government must recognize that, given their organizational 
structure and the fact that they possess weapons, there is a serious danger that 
the death squads may become involved, as has happened in some cases, in illegal 
activities such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking and abductions for ransom. 

7. The issue of the death squads in El Salvador is so important that it 
requires special investigation. More resolute action by national institutions, 
with the cooperation and assistance of foreign authorities who have any 
information on the subject, is especially needed. In order to verify a number 
of specific violations and ascertain who was responsible, it will be necessary 
to investigate the serious acts of violence committed by death squads on a 
case-by-case basis. 


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3 . ZAMORA 
SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

Lawyer Mario Zamora Rivas, a leader of the Christian Democratic Party and 
Chief State Counsel of the Republic, was murdered at his home on 
23 February 1980. 

Considered one of his party's most important leaders, Zamora was also a 
major public figure outside the party; given the political violence in the 
country, this exposed him to reprisals. 

Members of a security force were responsible for Zamora' s murder, which 
forms part of a pattern of conduct adopted by such forces in their illegal 
activities. Although the Commission has no doubt about the details of the 
murder, the identity of the murderers cannot be established from the testimony, 
investigations, evidence and proceedings on the case. 

The Government did not make a proper investigation which would have 
resulted in the identification and punishment of the guilty parties. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 425 / 

Background 

The Christian Democratic Party (PDC) joined other centrist and centre-left 
parties in the first Government Junta which overthrew General Romero in 
October 1979. 

The Christian Democrats did not withdraw from the Government, as other 
groups did, and in December 1979 they joined the second Revolutionary Government 
Junta . 

This attitude drew the opposition of Zamora and other leaders within the 
party, who believed that the armed forces did not offer sufficient guarantees 
for their political project. 

As a condition for remaining in the second Junta, the Christian Democratic 
Party (PDC) proposed a meeting with the Armed Forces Joint Staff at the highest 
level. It presented a document on the violations being committed against its 
members and stated the bases for the party's relationship with the armed forces. 
One of the proponents of this strategy was Mr. Zamora. The armed forces 
maintained that they could not respond to the document because it contained 
serious accusations, and they asked for time to consider it. 426 / 

Other evidence submitted to the Commission suggests that Zamora had begun 
talks aimed at opening a dialogue with Cayetano Carpio, 427 / leader of the 
Fuerzas Populares de Liberacion (FPL), a party to the left of PDC. 

The PDC Convention, which was scheduled to take place the day after 
Zamora's assassination, was to have heard an explanation of the choices facing 
the Christian Democratic Party at that moment in time. 


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Zamora was the only party leader strong and persuasive enough to be able to 
alter the course of the policy of alliances pursued by the party, then headed by 
Mr. Duarte, 428 / and the importance of this in Salvadorian public life was well 
understood . 

A few days before the assassination. Major Roberto D'Aubuisson publicly 
accused Zamora and other PDC leaders of being communists and members of the 
guerrilla group FPL. 429 / Because of this, Zamora, in his capacity as a public 
official, filed a complaint of defamation against D'Aubuisson with the Criminal 
Court, basing his right to do so on the duty of any public official to challenge 
an unfounded accusation before the courts. According to testimony, this was the 
first complaint lodged in El Salvador in an attempt to contain the far right 
through the use of criminal proceedings. 

Two days before Zamora' s assassination, two staff members of the Office of 
the Chief State Counsel were riddled with bullets while driving an official car. 
Some testimony claims that the shooting was a mistake and that Zamora was the 
intended target. 

The facts 


Mr. Zamora was at a party in his home with approximately seven other 
people. The party ended at midnight. Without warning, a group of six 
individuals entered the victim's house from the roof. Their faces were covered 
by ski masks and they carried small arms with silencers and some rifles. They 
immediately forced everyone there to lie down on the floor. 

They demanded the keys to the front gate which Aronette, Zamora' s 
wife, 430 / said she did not have. The group's leader spoke with a foreign 
accent and asked specifically for Mario Zamora. Zamora identified himself; they 
made him get up and took him to another room, while turning up the volume of the 
music. After killing Zamora, they left the house in an orderly manner. 

Zamora's brother, Ruben 431 / lived in the house next door and had gone home 
to bed moments before the armed men entered. He was woken by shouting and 
thought that people at the party had drunk too much. He decided to go over to 
his brother's house but at his wife's request he telephoned instead; the line 
was dead. 432 / 

When the assailants left, the rest of the people in the house began to look 
for Mario Zamora and to telephone party leaders, police authorities and 
Government officials, including then Colonel Eugenio Vides Casanova, 
Director-General of the National Guard. At that point, the telephone was 
working normally. At first, they thought that Zamora had been abducted, but 
when they searched the house, they found his body riddled with bullets, in the 
bathroom. 

It was approximately three to four hours after the murder was reported that 
the first security forces patrol arrived to conduct the preliminary 
investigation . 

Although judicial proceedings were instituted on this case, no one was ever 
accused of the crime and the case was finally closed in 1981. 


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Analysis 

The operation was carried out with extreme precision and skill in order to 
eliminate the victim without letting the identity of the killers be known. 

The Commission has received sufficient evidence that the operation was 
carried out by the intelligence section of a State security force without 
consulting the Intelligence Department of the High Command, the institution 
which usually decided on this type of operation. The evidence also shows that 
the same security force had devised a plan for eliminating the victim and that 
the Intelligence Department of the High Command knew all about it. The security 
force repeatedly requested approval for the plan and when it did not receive the 
go-ahead, decided to proceed without authorization. 

The High Command's reaction to the incident was to request military 
intelligence to verify internally who had carried out the operation. According 
to the information received, the purpose of the investigation was to establish 
whether the murder had been committed by one of the security forces, a death 
squad or a gang of kidnappers. 

The decision by the security force to go ahead without authorization would 
explain the alleged involvement of foreign personnel in the operation, as a 
strategy to conceal identities and obstruct a subsequent investigation by the 
High Command itself or by any other security force. Furthermore, there is 
sufficient evidence that some security forces used people from other countries, 
for instance, Argentina and Nicaragua, to do the "dirty work" of eliminating 
political opponents. 

Although the killers did not know Zamora personally, they were aware of his 
position and prestige; it was clear that the plan was devised in such a way as 
to minimize the risks of the operation, so as to prevent any subsequent public 
reaction . 

FINDINGS 

Based on the investigation it made and the testimony it received, the 
Commission believes it has sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. Zamora was 
assassinated by members of a State security force in an operation decided on by 
that force and carried out as part of its illegal activities. 

Likewise, the Commission has sufficient evidence to affirm that the 
Intelligence Department of the High Command established precisely which security 
force had committed the crime and that the military hierarchy at that time kept 
this information secret in order to conceal the identity of the perpetrators and 
made no report to the proper authorities, with the result that the necessary 
investigation was never made. 


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4. TEHUICHO 
SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 23 July 1980, 13 inhabitants of El Bartolillo hamlet in Tehuicho canton 
were executed by heavily armed civilians who identified themselves as 
guerrillas. Other people died in the surrounding area. 

The justice of the peace arrived at the scene the next morning accompanied 
by troops of the Artillery Brigade. He left without carrying out the required 
procedures. For three days, soldiers prevented the burial of the bodies. 

The Commission finds the following: 

(a) On 23 July 1980, in Tehuicho canton, 13 civilians were executed by a 
death squad consisting of members of the "Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Osorio" 
Artillery Brigade and members of the civil defence unit for the San Juan Opico 
district . 

(b) Troops from the Artillery Brigade went to the scene the next day and 
for three days prevented the burial of the victims. 

(c) The justice of the peace did not carry out the procedures required by 
law. Nor did he institute criminal proceedings to investigate what had 
happened . 

(d) Miguel Lemus, a former member of the local civil defence unit 
participated as a member of the death squad. 

(e) Carlos Azcunaga Sanchez, now a lieutenant colonel, planned the crime; 
his motive was personal revenge. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 433 / 

The collective execution 


Shortly after midday on 23 July 1980, a group of approximately 
100 civilians arrived at El Bartolillo hamlet in Tehuicho canton. Their faces 
were painted and they were dressed as peasants. They were very well-armed and 
dispersed throughout the canton. Witnesses identified Miguel Lemus, who was a 
civil defence member at the time. 

They identified themselves as guerrillas and called a meeting on the 
football field, supposedly to distribute weapons. As the operation proceeded, 
they started to force people to assemble. 

The villagers congregated on the sports field, where they were blindfolded. 
The strangers then identified themselves as a "death squad" and accused the 
villagers of having links with the guerrillas. 

They proceeded to make a selection. Apparently they had a list. 

" Ore jas " 434 / identified people on the list and singled out 14 of them, 12 men 


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and 2 women. The men were taken to a ravine, the two women were taken 
elsewhere. Shots were heard. Some houses were looted and burned. 

The bodies of the women and the men were found in the course of the night. 
There was physical evidence that they had been tortured. 

On returning to their homes, the survivors found the words "death squad" 
painted on a wall. 

Background 

One year before the incident, a private dispute had arisen over the 
ownership of a property between Pedro Franco Molina, a villager from Tehuicho 
canton who supported the guerrillas, and Antonio Azcunaga, a villager from 
Los Amates canton who was the father of then Captain Carlos Azcunaga Sanchez. 

The dispute intensified when it was rumoured that Franco had offered a reward 
for Antonio Azcunaga' s death. 

In October 1979, according to testimony, a group of guerrillas murdered 
Antonio Azcunaga. 

There was information that the group was from Santa Ana, but villagers from 
Tehuicho canton, including Pedro Franco, were also blamed. Carlos Azcunaga made 
various threatening comments. 

Subsequent events 

Uniformed soldiers from the "Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Osorio" Artillery 
Brigade, accompanying justice of the peace Rodolfo Sanchez 435 / and the forensic 
doctor, went to the scene of the incident the following day. The soldiers 
prevented the villagers from burying the bodies. Neither the justice of the 
peace nor the forensic doctor carried out the required procedures before leaving 
the canton. No judicial investigation was undertaken. 

Troops remained in the area for three days and prevented the burial of the 
bodies. The villagers buried the bodies in a mass grave as soon as the soldiers 
left . 


Subsequently, then Captain Carlos Azcunaga Sanchez, according to witnesses, 
made comments incriminating himself. When he appeared before the Commission, 
however, he denied that he had participated in the incident. 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is substantial evidence of the following: 

(a) On 23 July 1980, in Tehuicho canton, 13 civilians were executed by a 
death squad consisting of members of the "Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Osorio" 
Artillery Brigade and members of the civil defence unit for San Juan Opico 
district . 


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(b) Troops from the Artillery Brigade went to the scene the next day and 
stayed there for three days and prevented the burial of the victims. 

(c) The justice of the peace did not carry out the required procedures, or 
institute criminal proceedings to investigate what had happened. 

2. There is sufficient evidence of the following: 

(a) Miguel Lemus, a former member of the local civil defence unit, 
participated as a member of the death squad. 

(b) Carlos Azcunaga Sanchez, now a lieutenant colonel, planned the 
massacre; his motive was personal revenge. 

5 . VIERA, HAMMER AND PEARLMAN 
SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On the night of 3 January 1981, in the Sheraton Hotel in San Salvador, 
two National Guard agents killed Jose Rodolfo Viera Lizama, President of the 
Salvadorian Institute for Agrarian Reform (ISTA), and Michael P. Hammer and 
Mark David Pearlman, United States advisers from the American Institute for Free 
Labor Development (AIFLD) . 

The actual murderers, Santiago Gomez Gonzalez and Jose Dimas Valle Acevedo, 
who were National Guard agents, were convicted and later released under the 1987 
Amnesty Act. The other individuals involved in planning and ordering the 
murders. Lieutenant Rodolfo Isidro Lopez Sibrian, second-in-command of the 
Intelligence Section of the National Guard, Captain 

Eduardo Ernesto Alfonso Avila and businessman Hans Christ, were never convicted. 

The Intelligence Section of the National Guard had planned to eliminate 
Viera months before his murder. National Guard agents carried out the murders 
in the manner characteristic of the death squads. 

Lieutenant Colonel Mario Denis Moran Echeverria, then Chief of the 
Intelligence Section of the National Guard, covered up information about the 
murders, and Judge Hector Enrique Jimenez Zaldivar allowed one of the suspects 
to disguise himself so as to conceal his identity. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 436 / 

The agrarian reform and the death threats 

When the General Secretary of the Union Comunal Salvadorena (UCS), 

Rodolfo Viera, was murdered, he was also President of ISTA, a Government agency 
set up to carry out the agrarian reform programme. Michael P. Hammer and 
Mark David Pearlman, both of them officials of AIFLD, were in El Salvador to 
provide support and technical assistance for the agrarian reform process. 

As President of ISTA and General Secretary of UCS, Viera was viewed as a 
dangerous adversary by those who were opposed to the agrarian reform. He 
received death threats on a number of occasions. In May 1980, the Ejercito 


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Secreto Anticomunista referred to Viera as a "Communist traitor" who should be 
eliminated by the "patriots" who were fighting for a Government that would 
respect "private property". There were two attempts to murder him in 1980. 437 / 
There is sufficient evidence that they were planned by Section II of the 
National Guard. 

The murders of Viera, Hammer and Peajrlman 438 / 

It is not clear whether those who planned the murders set the specific 
place and time in advance. However, there is full evidence that they did take 
advantage of the unexpected opportunity in the Sheraton Hotel to murder people 
who were a previously selected target. 

On the night of 3 January 1981, Lopez Sibrian ordered Valle Acevedo, a 
National Guard agent, to accompany him to the home of businessman 
Hans Christ. 439 / Lopez Sibrian 440 / was carrying a 9-mm pistol and an Ingram 
sub-machine-gun 441 / obtained from the National Guard depot. 442 / At 
approximately 10 p.m., Christ, Lopez Sibrian and Avila arrived at the hotel and 
went to eat in the hotel restaurant. 

Viera, Hammer and Pearlman arrived sometime after 10 p.m. They went into 
the restaurant where Christ, Avila and Lopez Sibrian were sitting. Since the 
restaurant was full, they asked for somewhere more private. An employee 
recommended the Americas room, which is spacious. Christ recognized Viera and 
commented to Avila: "Look! There's that son of a bitch!" 443 / Avila said that 

someone in the group commented that he had grown a beard and that it would be 
good if he were dead. 444 / Avila also mentioned that when Lopez Sibrian saw 
Viera he said that that was a good opportunity to kill him. 445 / At least one 
of the three left the table and watched where Viera's group was going. 446 / 

Moments later Lopez Sibrian, Avila and Christ left the hotel, went to the 

parking lot and got into a car. There, they told Valle Acevedo to kill the 

President of ISTA and the other two, 447 / but he refused to do the job 

alone. 448 / Lopez Sibrian got out of the car, went back to the parking lot and 

went over to National Guard agent Gomez Gonzalez, who was watching Moran's 
vehicle. Lopez Sibrian told him to go with him. 449 / When Gomez Gonzalez 
replied that he could do nothing without Major Moran's authorization, 450 / 

Lopez Sibrian went into the hotel, returned immediately and told Gomez that 
Moran had authorized him to accompany him. 451 / 

Lopez Sibrian and Gomez Gonzalez then walked towards Sibrian' s vehicle, in 
which Valle Acevedo, Christ and Avila were sitting. 452 / Lopez Sibrian ordered 
Valle Acevedo and Gomez Gonzalez to accompany Christ to the hotel and kill the 
three men there. 453 / He also gave Gomez Gonzalez the 9-millimetre Ingram 
sub-machine-gun, while Avila gave Valle Acevedo another .45-millimetre 
sub-machine-gun and a khaki sweater to conceal the weapon. 454 / Christ told 
them that he would identify the men. 455 / 

The two National Guard agents entered the hotel behind Christ, who showed 
them where Viera, Hammer and Pearlman were sitting. 456 / They waited only a few 
moments, then Valle Acevedo and Gomez Gonzalez opened fire on Viera and his two 
companions. 457 / There is sufficient evidence, based on the wounds received and 


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the place where the bodies were, that, in addition to Viera, both Hammer and 
Pearlman were a target of the gunmen. 

The two gunmen left the hotel immediately and escaped in Lopez Sibrian' s 
vehicle to a house near the auxiliary funeral service, followed by Avila in his 
vehicle. 458 / There, they returned the weapons to their respective owners 459 / 
and Lopez Sibrian then ordered them to return to National Guard 
headquarters. 460 / After the murders of Viera, Hammer and Pearlman, it became 
known in the National Guard that members of Section II, including Valle Acevedo 
and Gomez Gonzalez, had committed the murders. 461 / 

On 14 February 1986, five years after the murder, the two agents were 
convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. On 19 December 1987, they were 
released under the Amnesty Act. The case against Avila was dismissed for the 
same reason. 462 / 

The investigation 

The seven years of investigation of the murders of Viera, Hammer and 
Pearlman are well documented elsewhere and there is no need to review them here. 
However, two aspects of this incident warranted careful consideration by the 
Commission . 

The role of Major Moran 

There is substantial evidence that Major Moran, then Chief of Intelligence 
of the National Guard, learnt, after the murders, that his second-in-command, 
Lopez Sibrian, had ordered two guards in the unit he commanded to carry them 
out. Moran also neglected to inform the appropriate authorities of those 
facts. 463 / 

It is also clear that Moran' s role in the murders was never properly 
investigated. One of the convicted guards said that Major Medrano, who headed 
the military investigation of the case, told him to blame Lopez Sibrian, 464 / 
apparently so as not to implicate his superior, Moran. 465 / Furthermore, there 
is no indication that when the Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts 
reopened the case in 1985, it investigated Moran's role in the murders, even 
though it had received evidence that Moran participated in a meeting of the 
Intelligence Section of the National Guard on 3 January, when the murder may 
have been planned. The Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts was 
also given evidence that on 5 January, Moran received payment for completing a 
"job" . 


The identification of Lopez Sibrian 

Although the testimony gathered by the Medrano commission shed new light on 
Lopez Sibrian' s role in the murders, there is full evidence that 

Judge Jimenez Zaldivar cooperated actively with Lopez Sibrian by allowing him to 
disguise himself 466 / so that it was impossible for a key witness to recognize 
him. The next day. Judge Jimenez Zaldivar ordered Lopez Sibrian released for 
lack of evidence. 467/ 


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FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is full evidence that on 3 January 1981, 

Jose Dimas Valle Acevedo and Santiago Gomez Gonzalez killed Jose Rodolfo Viera, 
Michael Hammer and Mark David Pearlman in the Sheraton Hotel. 

2. There is full evidence that Lieutenant Lopez Sibrian was involved in 
planning the operation to murder Viera, Hammer and Pearlman and in ordering 
two members of the National Guard to carry it out. He also gave a weapon to 
Gomez Gonzalez and helped the killers escape from the scene of the crime. 

3. There is full evidence that Captain Eduardo Avila was involved in 
planning the murder operation and collaborated with Lopez Sibrian in carrying it 
out . 


4. There is sufficient evidence that Hans Christ 468 / was involved in 
planning the murder operation and assisted in carrying it out. 

5. As to the role of Lieutenant Colonel Mario Denis Moran, there is 
substantial evidence that he covered up the murders by neglecting to report the 
facts . 

6. There is full evidence that Judge Hector Enrique Jimenez Zaldivar 
cooperated with the main suspect, Lopez Sibrian, hindering his identification 
which would have led to the institution of criminal proceedings. 


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E. VIOLENCE AGAINST OPPONENTS BY THE FRENTE FARABUNDO MARTI PARA LA LIBERACION 
NACIONAL 

This section deals with the use of violence by FMLN against real or alleged 
opponents in violation of the rules of international humanitarian law and 
international human rights law. It covers the use of violence against 
non-combatants and also the execution of alleged criminals without due process. 


The section begins with a representative case, the execution of mayors in 
conflict zones. Then, after an explanation of the pattern observed in this type 
of violence, an account follows of some of the cases attributed to FMLN which 
had a major impact on Salvadorian society. In some cases, it has not been 
possible to prove who planned the attacks, in others it is impossible to 
determine, or to determine with certainty, who carried them out. 


Lastly, this section includes a case which, in the Commission's view, is an 
isolated incident which does not conform to any pattern of unlawful use of 
violence. The section concludes with the Commission's findings. 

1. ILLUSTRATIVE CASE: SUMMARY EXECUTION OF MAYORS 469 / 

SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

Between 1985 and 1988, a large number of mayors of towns situated in 
conflict zones were executed, without any kind of a trial, by the Ejercito 
Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) , one of the organizations in FMLN. These 
executions were carried out pursuant to a policy which FMLN has openly 
acknowledged . 

The present report describes 11 executions, but there were more than that. 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. The FMLN General Command approved and adopted a policy of murdering 
mayors whom it considered to be working against it. 

2. The ERP leadership carried out the policy and ordered its local 
commanders to murder mayors whom it considered to be working against FMLN. 

3. The following persons, among others, were part of the ERP leadership 

at various times when mayors within territory under ERP control were murdered, 
and they were parties to the decisions to carry out - and are therefore 
responsible for - those summary executions: Joaquin Villalobos ("Atilio"), 

Jorge Melendez ("Jonas"), Ana Sonia Medina ("Mariana"), 

Mercedes del Carmen Letona ("Luisa"), Ana Guadalupe Martinez ("Maria") and 
Marisol Galindo. 


4. Joaquin Villalobos, as General-Secretary of ERP, held the highest 
position in that organization and bears special responsibility for the murders 
of mayors by ERP. 

5. Local ERP commanders, either under orders from the leadership or with 
its approval and backing, murdered the mayors listed in this summary. 


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6. The murders of mayors Jose Alberto Lopez, 

Francisco Israel Diaz Vasquez, Pedro Ventura, 

Maria Ovidia Graciela Monico Vargas, Jose Domingo Aviles Vargas, Dolores Molina, 
Napoleon Villafuerte, Edgar Mauricio Valenzuela and Terencio Rodriguez were part 
of an established pattern, based on a deliberate FMLN policy, and were carried 
out by local ERP commanders on orders from and with the express approval of 
members of the ERP leadership. 

7. The mayor of Guatajiagua, Jose Alberto Lopez, was murdered in 
October 1988, while in the power of commander "Amadeo". 

8. The execution of mayors by FMLN was a violation of the rules of 
international humanitarian law and international human rights law. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 

Execution of Jose Alberto Lopez, mayor of Guatajiagua 

Mr. Jose Alberto Lopez was elected mayor of the town of Guatajiagua, 
Department of Morazan, in March 1988. According to an FMLN source after his 
election, Lopez received a letter from FMLN warning him to resign and stating 
that it was FMLN policy to execute any mayor in the area. Lopez replied that he 
would not resign. 

The mayor was summoned three times by FMLN to go to the guerrilla camp in 
San Bartolo canton, but Lopez never went. Out of fear, he did not stay in 
Guatajiagua, but usually worked in San Francisco Gotera. In any case, the 
mayor's office in Guatajiagua had been destroyed by the guerrillas. 

On Saturday, 25 October 1988, Lopez was at home with his wife, 

Leticia Canales, and their four minor children. The house was in the 
El Calvario district of the town of Guatajiagua. An FMLN combatant whom Lopez 
knew came to the house that morning and told the mayor that his commander wanted 
to speak to him. Fearing what would happen if he refused a fourth time, Lopez 
agreed to go. Leticia, his wife, decided to go with him and the three left for 
San Bartolo canton on foot. 

When they reached the Gualavo river, a man in uniform carrying a rifle was 
waiting for them. The combatant who had brought them told the man in uniform 
that he had the mayor with him and handed him over. The man in uniform told the 
mayor's wife that she could not cross the river or go to the guerrilla camp. He 
told her to go home, saying that her husband would be sent back that afternoon. 

On arriving at the camp, the mayor was taken to the commander, who went by 
the name of "Amadeo". There is sufficient proof that, after speaking to the 
mayor, "Amadeo" ordered his execution. 

That same night. Radio Venceremos announced that FMLN had summarily 
executed the mayor of Guatajiagua, Jose Alberto Lopez. 


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Execution of Francisco Israel Diaz Vasquez, mayor of Lolotique 

On 2 May 1985, Francisco Israel Diaz Vasquez took office as mayor, after 
being elected by popular vote. There is full evidence that on 2 June that year, 
he was abducted by FMLN and kept hostage until 24 October, when he was released 
along with other mayors who had also been abducted by FMLN. He was released 
following negotiations in Panama between FMLN and the Government. 

On 2 June 1986, Diaz resumed office as mayor. In December of that year, he 
received death threats from the guerrillas and resigned. However, the 
guerrillas believed that he was still working for the Government. 

On 5 December 1988, an unknown man went to Francisco Israel Diaz's home and 
handed his wife a note ordering him to go the next day to the place known as 
"la Entrada de Tempisque", near Santa Barbara. 

Diaz left on the morning of 6 December with a neighbour. They passed the 
place known as "la Entrada de Tempisque" and continued on to Santa Barbara 
canton, arriving around noon. Three uniformed combatants with rifles suddenly 
appeared and arrested Mr. Diaz. Five minutes later one of them returned and 
told Mr. Diaz's companion to go home because they were going to hold the mayor 
for several days. 

The next afternoon, 7 December, two unknown men went to Lolotique church 
and reported that Diaz was dead and handed over his wallet containing his 
identity papers. 

That same night, several relatives and friends of Diaz went looking for his 
body. When they found it, they saw that "he had been shot once, behind the ear, 
and that the bullet, in exiting, had shot out one eye and his teeth. On one 
calf there was a piece of paper saying ' summarily executed by FMLN' and, on the 
other, a piece of paper saying 'as a traitor'." 

In October 1992, FMLN informed the Commission officially that ERP, pursuant 
to a policy approved by FMLN, had executed mayor Diaz. 

Executions of other mayors 

In its communication dated 18 October 1992, replying to a request for 
information from the Commission on the Truth, FMLN said that ERP, pursuant to a 
policy approved by FMLN, had also executed the following mayors: 

Pedro Ventura, mayor of San Isidro, Department of Morazan, on 
15 April 1988 . 

Maria Ovidia Graciela Monico Vargas, mayor of San Jorge, Department of 
San Miguel, on 18 January 1985. 

Jose Domingo Aviles Vargas, mayor of Santa Elena, Department of Usulutan, 
on 8 January 1985. 

Dolores Molina, mayor of Lolotiquillo, Department of Morazan, 

19 August 1988. 


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Napoleon Villafuerte, mayor of Sesori, Department of San Miguel, 

25 November 1988. 

Edgar Mauricio Valenzuela, mayor of San Jorge, Department of San Miguel, 

4 March 1985. 

The communication contained the text of two FMLN communiques, dated 
22 August and 26 November 1988, announcing the execution of Napoleon Villafuerte 
and Dolores [Molina] respectively. 

Furthermore, there is sufficient evidence that on 11 May 1988, 

Mr. Terencio Rodriguez, mayor of Perquin, Department of Morazan, was executed 
without trial. 

Applicable law 

In considering the facts in the light of international humanitarian law and 
international human rights law, the Commission examined the arguments put 
forward by FMLN to justify its policy of executing mayors. 

FMLN justified these executions on the grounds that "mayors and mayors' 
offices had come to engage in what were clearly counter-insurgency activities. 
The mayors, in close coordination with the commanders of the garrisons of the 
various towns, had embarked on the task of creating paramilitary forces (civil 
defence units) and direct repressive activity against the civilian population 
and had developed spy networks to detect FMLN members and supporters, or simply 
people opposed to the regime among the population and to obtain information 
about members of popular organizations and their plans; this information was 
then passed on to the army." It also stated that the mayors' activities 
affected supply lines. 

FMLN went on to say that "when mass arrests of villagers, murders, 
repression by civil defence forces and operations by the armed forces of 
El Salvador based on information supplied by the mayors' spy networks began to 
occur, the mayors joined the ranks of those whom FMLN, since 1980, had 
considered military targets whose summary execution was hence legitimate: 
spies, paramilitary personnel, those who collaborated with the death squads and 
anyone whose actions triggered repression or murder of the civilian population". 

The Commission does not accept these arguments. If by calling the mayors 
"military targets", FMLN is trying to say that they were combatants, it must be 
pointed out that there is nothing to support the claim that the executed mayors 
were combatants according to the provisions of humanitarian law. 

However, whether the executed mayors might or might not at some point have 
been considered "military targets" is irrelevant, since there is no evidence 
that any of them lost their lives as a result of any combat operation by FMLN. 
The execution of an individual, whether a combatant or a non-combatant, who is 
in the power of a guerrilla force and who does not put up any resistance is not 
a combat operation. 

There is nothing in international humanitarian law or international human 
rights law to prohibit belligerents from punishing, in areas under their 


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control, individuals 
criminal in nature, 
summary execution of 
the death squads and 
civilian population" 


who commit acts that, according to the applicable laws, are 
In the aforesaid document, FMLN says that it considered the 
"spies, paramilitary personnel, those who collaborated with 
anyone whose actions triggered repression or murder of the 
a legitimate action. 470 / 


The Commission recalls that, when punishing persons accused of crimes, it 
is necessary to observe the basic elements of due process. International 
humanitarian law does not in any way exempt the parties to a conflict from that 
obligation, and international human rights law does not exempt the party which 
has effective control of a territory from that obligation with respect to 
persons within its jurisdiction. On the contrary, those two sources of law 
expressly prohibit the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions 
without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted independent and 
impartial tribunal attaching all the judicial guarantees generally recognized as 
indispensable . 


In none of the cases mentioned above is there any evidence that a proper 
trial was held prior to the execution. Nor is there any evidence that any of 
the individuals died in a combat operation or that they resisted their 
executioners . 


FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is full evidence that the FMLN General Command approved and 
adopted a policy of murdering mayors whom it considered to be working against 
it . 


2. There is full evidence that members of the ERP leadership, among 
others, carried out the policy and ordered their local commanders to murder 
mayors whom they considered to be working against FMLN. 

3. There is full evidence that the following persons, among others, were 
part of the ERP leadership at various times when mayors within territory under 
ERP control were murdered, and that they were parties to the decisions to carry 
out - and are therefore responsible for - those summary executions: 

Joaquin Villalobos ("Atilio"), Jorge Melendez ("Jonas"), Ana Sonia Medina 
("Mariana"), Mercedes del Carmen Letona ("Luisa"), Ana Guadalupe Martinez 
("Maria") and Marisol Galindo. 

4. There is full evidence that Joaquin Villalobos, as General-Secretary 
of ERP, held the highest position in that organization and bears special 
responsibility for the murders of mayors by ERP. 

5. There is full evidence that local ERP commanders, either under orders 
from the leadership or with its approval and backing, murdered the mayors listed 
in this summary. 

6. There is full evidence that the murders of mayors Jose Alberto Lopez, 
Francisco Israel Diaz Vasquez, Pedro Ventura, 

Maria Ovidia Graciela Monico Vargas, Jose Domingo Aviles Vargas, Dolores Molina, 


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Edgar Mauricio Valenzuela, Napoleon Villafuerte, and Terencio Rodriguez were 
part of an established pattern, based on a deliberate FMLN policy, and were 
carried out by local ERP commanders on orders from and with the express approval 
of members of the ERP leadership. 

7. There is full evidence that the mayor of Guatajigua, 

Jose Alberto Lopez, was murdered in October 1988, while in the power of 
commander "Amadeo". 

8. The execution of mayors by FMLN was a violation of the rules of 
international humanitarian law and international human rights law. 

2. EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS 

(a) ZONA ROSA 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 


At around 9 p.m. on 19 June 1985, in an area of San Salvador known as the 
"Zona Rosa" where there are many restaurants, a group of armed men opened fire 
on a group of United States marines. The assailants were members of the Partido 
Revolucionario de Trabajadores Centroamericanos (PRTC) , one of the organizations 
in FMLN. The marines, who were serving as security guards at the United States 
Embassy in San Salvador, were in civilian clothing and were unarmed. Four 
marines, nine civilians and one of the assailants died in the shoot-out. The 
"Mardoqueo Cruz" urban commando of PRTC claimed responsibility for the killings; 
FMLN defended the attack in a communique. In a subsequent trial, three people 
were tried and convicted. Two other trials were instituted for the same attack. 
One of them did not reach the sentencing stage, since the accused was amnestied; 
in the other, sentence has yet to be passed on the accused. 

The Commission finds the following: 

1 . The attack on the United States marines was part of the FMLN policy of 
considering United States military personnel a legitimate target. 


2. A PRTC commando carried out the attack. 

3. Ismael Dimas Aguila and Jose Roberto Salazar Mendoza were involved in 
planning and carrying out the attack. 

4. Pedro Antonio Andrade was also involved in planning the attack. 


5. The attack on the marines in the Zona Rosa was a violation of the 
rules of international humanitarian law. 


DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 471 / 

Background 

In 1985, the General Command of the Frente Farabundo Marti para la 
Liberacion Nacional took the decision to consider United States military 


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personnel in El Salvador legitimate military targets. It gave its members broad 
and sweeping orders to implement the decision. 472 / 

Planning the attack 

In early June 1985, some members of the Partido Revolucionario de 
Trabajadores Centroamericanos (PRTC) , one of the five political-military 
organizations in FMLN, planned an attack which they called "Yankee aggressor in 
El Salvador, another Viet Nam awaits you". The aim was to execute United States 
military personnel assigned to El Salvador and responded to the general 
directive to that effect issued earlier by the General Command. The attack was 
to be carried out by members of the "Mardoqueo Cruz" urban commando. 

The commando operated from an auto repair shop in which 
Ismael Dimas Aguilar and his brother Jose Abraham were partners and from the 
"La Estrella" upholstery shop in which William Celio Rivas Bolanos and 
Juan Miguel Garcia Melendez were partners. The main planning meetings were 
therefore held in those places. 473 / 

The attack 


At around 8.30 p.m. on 19 June 1985, six United States marines who were 
responsible for security at the United States Embassy sat down at an outside 
table at Chili's restaurant in the area known as the "Zona Rosa" in the 
San Benito district. They were regular customers known to the owners of 
restaurants and cafes in the area and to those who worked there. They used to 
go there in groups whenever they were off duty. 474 / After a while, two of them 
left the group and went to sit down at a table in the Flashback restaurant a few 
yards away from their companions at Chili's. 475 / 

At around 9 p.m., a white pick-up truck with dark stripes parked outside 
the La Hola restaurant; a group of some seven individuals got out and walked 
over to Chili's and, without warning, fired a volley of shots at United States 
marines 476 / Thomas Handwork, Patrick R. Kwiatkoski, Bobbie J. Dickson and 
Gregory H. Weber. The marines were in civilian clothing. There is no evidence 
that they were carrying weapons. 

While the attackers were firing at the United States marines, someone 
returned their fire from inside Chili's and the Mediterranee restaurant. 477 / 

A member of the commando was wounded in the cross-fire. 478 / The following 
people were also shot and died at the scene: Humberto Saenz Cevallos, lawyer. 
Secretary of the Faculty of Law at Jose Matias Delgado University; 

Humberto Antonio Rosales Pineda, Executive Director of Inter Data Corporation; 
Arturo Alonso Silva Hoff, student; Jose Elmer Vidal Penalva, university student; 
Oswaldo Gonzalez Zambroni, Guatemalan businessman; 

Richard Ernest Mac Ardie Venturino, Chilean executive of the WANG corporation; 
George Viney, United States citizen. Regional Director of WANG; and 
Roberto Alvidrez, United States citizen and WANG executive. Some of these 
people had been sitting in Chile's, others in the Mediterranee. 479 / There is 
no evidence that any of the civilians who died were armed. 480 / Other people at 
the scene were wounded. 


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A few minutes 
Embassy arrived on 


after the commando withdrew, staff from the United States 
the scene and drove the four marines to a first aid post. 


At 9.30 p.m., members of the National Police arrived on the scene but, 
according to their report, were unable to make a satisfactory inspection because 
only eight of the bodies were there and the scene of the incident had already 
been disturbed. 481/ 


That same night, the other members of the commando took 
Jose Roberto Salazar Mendoza, who had been seriously wounded in the attack, to a 
Salvadorian Red Cross post. He died from his wound. 482 / 

Subsequent statements 

Three days later, on 22 June 1985, the Partido Revolucionario de 
Trabajadores Centroamericanos (PRTC) claimed responsibility for the operation in 
a communique signed by "Fernando Gallardo" of the political and military 
headquarters of the "Mardoqueo Cruz" urban guerrilla commando of PRTC. 

On 25 June 1985, the FMLN General Command issued a communique supporting 
the operation and asserting that the four marines were a legitimate military 
target. 483 / The Commission has full evidence, however, that the United States 
marines were not combatants. Their function was to guard the United States 
Embassy and there is no indication whatsoever that they took part in combat 
actions in El Salvador. Furthermore, international humanitarian law defines the 
category of "combatant" restrictively . The allegation that they were performing 
"intelligence functions" has not been substantiated. In any event, carrying out 
intelligence functions does not, in itself, automatically place an individual in 
the category of combatant. 

In a subsequent broadcast on Radio Venceremos, Ismael Dimas Aguilar 
acknowledged that, as one of the military chiefs of the "Mardoqueo Cruz" urban 
commando responsible for the operation, he had participated in its planning and 
in the execution of the marines. 484 / 

On 28 August 1985, then President of the Republic Jose Napoleon Duarte held 
a press conference to report on the results of the investigation into what he 
called the "Zona Rosa Massacre". He said that three of the people responsible 
for the operation had been arrested. Jose Abraham Dimas Aguilar and 
Juan Miguel Garcia Melendez, who had planned the operation, and 
William Celio Rivas Bolanos, who had helped carry it out. 

The judicial proceedings 

On 27 August 1985, the National Guard placed the three accused at the 
disposal of the military court and handed over the results of the investigation, 
including the confession of the three defendants. 485 / Rivas and Garcia later 
said that their confessions had been obtained under torture. The documents of 
the investigation were incomplete, since they did not include autopsy or 
ballistic reports, a reconstruction of events, or other reports customary in the 
investigation of a case of this kind. 486 / 


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Sentence was passed only five years later, on 30 April 1991, in the court 
of first instance. Although it appears from the dossier that the extrajudicial 
confessions were generally confirmed, there is no record that the defendants 
ever appeared in court, that any statement was taken from them or that any 
effort whatsoever was made to clarify the facts. 

Two years after the trial began, the defendants' lawyer requested the 
dismissal of proceedings against them under the 1987 Amnesty Act. 487 / On 
12 November 1987, the court granted the request and dismissed all charges 
against the three defendants. 488 / 

The United States Consul General in San Salvador representing the family of 
one of the dead United States marines went to court to file an appeal against 
the amnesty. 489 / On 4 December 1987, the military court confirmed the 
dismissal on grounds that the offences had been political. 490 / 

On 22 February 1988, President Napoleon Duarte, to whom, as 
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the decision of the military court was 
referred, overturned it on the grounds 491 / that the Zona Rosa killings were 
ordinary crimes of international significance and, as such, not subject to 
amnesty. The Supreme Court of Justice, before which the matter was brought by 
means of a remedy of habeas corpus , confirmed the decision. 

On 30 April 1991, sentence was passed in the court of the first instance 
and the three defendants were found guilty; the sentence was confirmed, almost 
in its entirety, on 5 March by the relevant court. 

On 25 September 1992, the military judge decided to wait until he had seen 
the report of the Commission on the Truth before ruling on the request from the 
defendants' lawyer that the National Reconciliation Act be applied to the 
defendants, saying that the report was indispensable in order to determine 
whether the amnesty provided for in that Act was applicable. 492 / 

While this trial was going on, two other defendants went on trial for the 
same incident. 

One trial, that of Juan Antonio Morales, began in 1988. Morales confessed 
to the Treasury Police that he had been part of the commando that had carried 
out the Zona Rosa operation and he confirmed his statement to the judge of the 
Fifth Criminal Court. Although his version of events is substantially the same 
as the one given by Rivas, Garcia and Dimas, he did not name them as having been 
among the participants. There was no joinder of the two trials, and he has 
still not been sentenced. After a number of procedural vicissitudes, those 
implicated were denied the benefit of amnesty. Morales is still being 
held. 493 / 

The other trial, for complicity, was instituted in 1989 before the Third 
Criminal Court against Pedro Antonio Andrade, nom de guerre 
"Mario Gonzalez". 494 / This trial too was not joined to the earlier one. 

Unlike the other defendants, Andrade benefited from the 1987 amnesty. 

The Commission has received sufficient evidence that Andrade was one of the 
people who planned the attack. Andrade was head of the "Mardoqueo Cruz" urban 


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commando at the time the incident occurred and he confessed in court to having 
had prior knowledge of an attack planned against "los cheles" (foreigners) and 
having made arrangements for a safe house and for medical care in case anyone 
was wounded in the operation. However, the Commission has received credible 
information that Andrade had a wider role in the selection of specific targets 
and in other aspects of the attack. 

FINDINGS 

The Commission finds the following: 

1. There is full evidence that the attack on the United States marines 
was part of the FMLN policy of considering United States military personnel a 
legitimate target of war. 

2. There is full evidence that the "Mardoqueo Cruz" urban commando of 
PRTC carried out the attack and that PRTC, as the organization to which this 
commando belongs, bears responsibility for the incident. 

3. There is substantial evidence that Ismael Dimas Aguilar planned the 
attack and that he himself fired on the marines. 

4. There is sufficient evidence that Pedro Antonio Andrade was involved 
in planning the attack. 

5. The attack on the marines in the Zona Rosa was a violation by FMLN of 
the rules of international humanitarian law. 


(b) ANAYA SANABRIA 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

Herbert Ernesto Anaya Sanabria, leader of the Human Rights Commission 
(non-governmental), was shot and killed on the morning of 26 October 1987 in the 
parking lot outside his home in San Salvador. 

Two months later. National Police arrested a young man, 

Jorge Alberto Miranda Arevalo, a member of ERP, who initially stated that he had 
taken part in the murder as the look-out. He later retracted his confession. 

In 1991, a jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 
30 years in prison. 

The Commission finds that: 

1. For this case, it did not have sufficient time to resolve the 

following dilemma: the fact that there was evidence that a State security force 

or a death squad might have been responsible, and also evidence that the 
Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) might have been responsible for the 
murder of Herbert Ernesto Anaya Sanabria. 

2. Miranda's trial and his treatment by the police violated his basic 
rights . 


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3. The State failed in its duty under international law to protect human 
rights, properly investigate the murder of Herbert Anaya and bring to trial and 
punish the culprits. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 495 / 

The murder 


On 26 October 1987, Herbert Anaya was shot to death in the parking lot of 
his home in the Zacamil district. According to witnesses, three men took a 
direct part in the murder: one fired the shots, another acted as look-out for 

the first and the third 496 / drove the vehicle. 497 / The murderers escaped in 
an old, yellow pick-up truck. 

Ballistic tests showed that the six cartridges had been fired from the same 
weapon, 498 / and also that the six bullets found had been fired from the same 
weapon. 499 / The Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts (CIHD) 
maintained that the bullets were not typical of the ammunition available to the 
armed forces of El Salvador. 500 / 

Background 

At the time he was murdered, Herbert Anaya was general coordinator of the 
Human Rights Commission (non-governmental) (CDHES-NG) 501 / and used to speak out 
regularly against human rights violations. He was also a member of the Ejercito 
Revolucionario del Pueblo. 502 / Before his death, he apparently advocated a 
peaceful solution to the armed conflict in his country. 503 / 

On 26 May 1986, he was arrested by members of the Treasury Police who were 
dressed in civilian clothing and heavily armed. 504 / He was interrogated and 
imprisoned 505 / until 2 February 1987, when he was released in an exchange of 
prisoners . 

Reaction to the murder 


The murder triggered a strong reaction both within El Salvador and abroad. 
There were demonstrations in the capital and national and international human 
rights groups and civilian associations expressed their concern. 506 / 

President Duarte asked CIHD to investigate the case and also offered a 
reward of 50,000 colones (US$ 10,000) . 507 / The investigation did not produce 
any significant results, and the possibility that Anaya might have been murdered 
by Government forces or right-wing sectors was not seriously investigated. 

Arrest and detention of Jorge Alberto Miranda Arevalo 

On 23 December 1987, National Police arrested 
Jorge Alberto Miranda Arevalo, a member of a union of the ERP urban 
commandos. 508 / Miranda and a companion had attacked a truck carrying soft 
drinks. His companion "Carlos", who, according to Miranda's first statement, 
shot at Anaya, managed to escape. 


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Miranda was interrogated 509 / and, according to the National Police, made 
an extrajudicial statement confessing to having participated as look-out in 
Anaya's murder. According to the court dossier, that same day he led members of 
the National Police to arms caches. 

During the first weeks of his detention, Miranda said that he had been 
subjected to psychological pressure. 510 / He said he had been injected with an 
unknown substance, 511 / and also that he had been subjected to sleep 
deprivation . 

The Government concluded that Miranda was guilty. When the Government paid 
Miranda 12,000 colones on 4 January 1988, saying that the payment was being made 
under a programme announced in December 1987, the Minister of Justice denied 
that Miranda was being rewarded for taking the blame for the murder. 512 / 

During the first weeks of his imprisonment, Miranda received special 
treatment: he was interviewed on camera and visited alone by foreign 

reporters 513 / and also by senior officials. Miranda says he was also visited 
by members of the National Police and by some Venezuelans who offered him 
comforts if he stuck to his original statement. 514 / 

For its part, CIHD concluded its investigation shortly after Miranda's 
arrest. According to the dossier, CIHD did not pursue leads or update important 
information, spoke to few witnesses and did not compare the results of ballistic 
tests of the ammunition used in the murder with ammunition handed over by 
Miranda . 

Judicial proceedings against Miranda 

When he had been held nine days longer than the maximum time allowed by the 
Salvadorian Constitution without being brought before a judge, 515 / Miranda was 
brought before the judge of the First Criminal Court of San Salvador 516 / [on 
4 January 1988], the day he received his payment from the Government. That same 
day, Miranda confirmed his extrajudicial statement before the judge. 
Nevertheless, one month later, he retracted his statement about the 
assassination, although he reaffirmed that he was a member of ERP . 517 / 

After two years during which little headway was made, the judge ordered a 
partial stay of proceedings in Miranda's favour in April 1990, "... because of 

the absence of the necessary evidence of his participation" . 518 / Subsequently, 
the First Criminal Chamber of the First Central Section revoked the stay 519 / 
and brought the case to trial. 

In October 1991, a jury of five persons found Jorge Miranda guilty of 
murder and acts of terrorism. 520 / 

In March 1992, the judge applied the National Reconciliation Act to Miranda 
in respect of the offence of acts of terrorism and subversive association, but 
not in respect of the murder, and gave Miranda the maximum sentence of 30 years 
in prison. 521 / 


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The evidence 522/ 


ERP 


No ERP member interviewed by the Commission has claimed responsibility for 
Anaya's murder, nor has any witness identified Miranda as a participant. One 
eyewitness who claimed to have seen the murderers from close up was unable to 
identify Miranda when shown a series of photographs of young men, including 
Miranda. 523 / 

Nonetheless, there is evidence that ERP and Miranda may have participated 
in the murder, and there are even credible motives. There were disagreements 
between Anaya and ERP. There is evidence that Anaya already wanted to see an 
end to the violence, whereas ERP had embarked on an initiative which would 
require violence in San Salvador. 

Moreover, in his first two statements, Miranda put the blame on himself and 
on ERP. He had, and continues to have, a grasp of the facts. 524 / 

To the Commission, Miranda continued to deny his involvement. He even 
claimed that he had made up everything he had said about the murder and its 
planning. Nevertheless, he gave details of the murder and the way in which it 
was apparently planned that tally with other facts and that, according to our 
investigations, he had not given before. He provided information on: the time 

of a meeting held the night before the murder, where the pick-up truck came 
from, who obtained it and how he got to Anaya' s parking lot in order to be able 
to act as look-out before the murder. 

The Government 


Salvadorian and international human rights organizations have expressed 
concern that the armed forces or a death squad may have killed Anaya in order to 
put an end to his criticisms of human rights violations. 525 / 

There is evidence that this could be true. According to his colleagues, 
Anaya received a number of direct and indirect threats from the Government 
throughout 1987. 526 / According to a leader of CDHES-NG, two weeks before his 
murder a woman who worked for the Commission was arrested by the National 
Police, who informed her that they knew that Anaya was the leader of the 
organization and that "they were going to disrupt the entire work" of the 
organization. 527 / 

Throughout the 1980s, there were constant acts of violence against CDHES-NG 
and Anaya was the fourth leader of the Commission to be murdered or to 
disappear. Not one of these cases has been satisfactorily resolved. 528 / 

Moreover, according to Anaya's widow, at 6.10 a.m on the day of the murder, 
neighbours saw a group of National Police some 200 metres from the family's 
house. 529 / She argues that since the police were so close by, the murders 
could not have been from FMLN. 


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FINDINGS 

The Commission finds that: 

1. For this case, it did not have sufficient time to resolve the 

following dilemma: the fact that there was evidence showing that a State 

security force or a death squad might have been responsible, and also evidence 
that the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) might have been responsible 
for the murder of Herbert Ernesto Anaya Sanabria. 

2. Miranda's trial and his treatment by the police violated his basic 
rights . 

3. The State failed in its duty under international law to protect human 
rights, properly investigate the murder of Herbert Anaya and bring to trial and 
punish the culprits. 


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(c) ROMERO GARCIA, "MIGUEL CASTELLANOS" 

SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

Miguel Castellanos, whose real name was Napoleon Romero Garcia, was 
murdered at 6.30 p.m. on 16 February 1989, shortly after leaving his office in 
the Centro para Estudios de la Realidad Nacional (CEREN) in the Flor Blanca 
district of San Salvador. FMLN urban commandos machine-gunned the vehicle in 
which Castellanos was travelling with his bodyguard, Rafael Quijada Lopez, on 
the 43 Avenida Sur and Sexta Decima calle PONENTE. Castellanos was taken to the 
military hospital, where he died soon after. Quijada Lopez received three 
bullet wounds, two in the legs and one in the stomach, but he survived the 
attack . 

The attackers were not identified. 

In a Radio Venceremos broadcast and in statements to the press, FMLN took 
responsibility for the attack. 

Background 

Castellanos, aged 39, had been a member of the Political Commission of the 
Fuerzas Populares de Liberacion (FPL) , one of the member organizations of FMLN, 
until mid-April 1985, when he was arrested by members of the National Guard. 
During the first days of his detention, he agreed to change his position and to 
collaborate with the authorities. 

Before his arrest, Castellanos had been a member of the Political 
Commission of FPL and, in that capacity, the political and military official in 
charge of the special metropolitan area, as well as a member of the FMLN Joint 
Command in San Salvador. According to a report submitted to the Commission on 
the Truth by FMLN, Castellanos handled a great deal of secret information and, 
after his arrest in 1985, advised the National Guard and other intelligence 
bodies of the armed forces on matters relating to the campaign against FPL in 
particular and FMLN in general. 

After changing his position, Miguel Castellanos started working at CEREN. 

He was also editor of the magazine Analisis . 

Action by the Commission 

The facts of the case are not in dispute. Nevertheless, the Commission 
examined the available evidence and sought information from FMLN, which is 
obtained . 

The position of FMLN is that the death of Miguel Castellanos was a 
legitimate execution, since he was a traitor who was contributing in a direct 
and effective manner to repression against FMLN. 


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FINDINGS 

Notwithstanding the arguments put forward by FMLN, international 
humanitarian law does not permit the execution of civilians without a proper 
trial . 


(d) PECCORINI LETTONA 

Francisco Peccorini Lettona, aged 73, a doctor of philosophy and university 
lecturer, was a contributor to El Diario de Hoy , a morning newspaper in 
El Salvador, in which he had written a number of articles opposing the 
activities of FMLN. 

Mr. Peccorini took an active and public part in a group dedicated to what 
it termed "winning back" the University of El Salvador, which, in its view, had 
been infiltrated by guerrillas. 

On 15 March 1989 in San Salvador, while driving his car, Mr. Peccorini was 
the target of an attack in which he was shot. He was taken to the military 
hospital, where he died. 

At the Cocoyoc meeting, held in Mexico from 21 to 24 July 1989 between 
prominent persons from the United States of America and representatives of FMLN, 
FMLN acknowledged responsibility for Mr. Peccorini' s death. 

(e) GARCIA ALVARADO 

On 19 April 1989, Mr. Jose Roberto Garcia Alvarado, Attorney General of the 
Republic, was killed when a bomb planted in the car he was driving exploded. 

The incident occurred in the San Miguelito area of San Salvador and the two 
passengers in the car were injured. 

At the Cocoyoc meeting in Mexico in July 1989, FMLN took responsibility for 
Mr. Garcia Alvarado's death, which it attributed to the Fuerzas Armadas de 
Liberacion (FAL) , one of its member organizations. 


(f) GUERRERO 


SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 28 November 1989, Mr. Francisco Jose Guerrero, former President of the 
Supreme Court of El Salvador, was assassinated in his car at the intersection of 
Boulevard de los Heroes and Alameda Juan Pablo II in San Salvador. One of the 
attackers was killed, another escaped and the third, Cesar Ernesto Erazo Cruz, 
was wounded. 

In the hospital, Erazo Cruz said he had killed Guerrero on orders from 
FMLN. He later changed his story and finally denied participating at all. When 
he came to trial, the jury acquitted him. 


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At the time of his death, Mr. Guerrero was investigating the assassination 
of the Jesuit priests and apparently had found evidence. One of the possible 
motives for his murder may have been precisely to conceal that evidence. 

Mr. Guerrero died as a result of deliberate action aimed at killing him. 
Although Cesar Ernesto Erazo Cruz was acquitted at the trial, there is every 
evidence that he participated in the assassination. The Commission tried 
unsuccessfully to obtain significant information both within and outside 
El Salvador to confirm or disprove its investigating hypotheses. Although there 
is sufficient evidence that Erazo Cruz was at the time an active FMLN member, a 
fact which suggests that a more thorough investigation of FMLN responsibility 
for the assassination is called for, the available evidence did not allow the 
Commission, on completion of its work, to reach full agreement on this case. 

DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 530 / 

Mr. Francisco Jose Guerrero, a prominent conservative politician, was 
active in public life for more than three decades. 531 / He was President of the 
Supreme Court, worked as an adviser to President Cristiani to promote the 
dialogue with FMLN and was also a member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
advisory council. 532 / 

Mr. Guerrero was investigating the assassination of the Jesuit priests, 
which took place 12 days before he was killed. He had contacted the Jesuits 
immediately after the crime occurred and offered to cooperate in solving it. 

The death of Mr. Guerrero 


On the morning of 28 November 1989, Mr. Guerrero left his house in the 
Escalon district with his daughter-in-law to drive her to the San Salvador 
judicial centre, where she worked. Mr. Guerrero was driving, his 
daughter-in-law was sitting in the front passenger seat, and his bodyguard, 
Victor Manuel Rivera Monterrosa, was sitting in the back seat. Mr. Guerrero was 
usually accompanied by two bodyguards, but that morning one of them did not show 
up . 


They reached the intersection of Boulevard de los Heroes and 
Alameda Juan Pablo II without incident, and there they stopped at a traffic 
light near the "Biggest" restaurant. A man - later identified as 
Angel Anibal Alvarez Martinez - ran up along the pavement and stationed himself 
behind Mr. Guerrero's car. Another unidentified man stationed himself to the 
left of the car and a third, later identified as Cesar Ernesto Erazo Cruz, stood 

on the right side. Without addressing a word to the occupants of the car, they 

opened fire with their weapons. 533 / Mr. Guerrero's bodyguard noticed the men 

before they aimed their first shots at him, but only had time to react and 

counter-attack. 534 / 

According to witnesses, the attackers had followed Mr. Guerrero to the 
intersection in a yellow Volkswagen, from which they emerged and surrounded him. 
Other witnesses asserted that the attackers arrived on foot. 535 / 

The vehicle was hit from three sides by nine bullets. 536 / Apparently, the 
attackers fired first at Mr. Rivera Monterrosa, who was wounded, lost control 


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for a few seconds, then managed to fire back at his attackers with a 357 calibre 
revolver and an M-16 rifle. At that moment, he was hit again and emptied the 
entire magazine at the attackers. 537 / 

Mr. Guerrero was hit by five bullets. 538 / All the bullets extracted from 
his body were 45 calibre, 539 / three of them having been fired from a revolver 
which, according to the person who handed it over to the police two days later, 
was found on the body of Alvarez Martinez. 540 / The other two bullets had been 
fired from another weapon that was never recovered. 

Erazo Cruz and Alvarez Martinez were standing on the pavement in front of 
the "Biggest" restaurant when on-the-spot witnesses saw at least one man get out 
of a Cherokee-type vehicle two or three cars behind that of Mr. Guerrero, and 
fire a rifle, apparently an M-16, at Erazo Cruz and Alvarez Martinez. 541 / 
Alvarez Martinez was killed instantly. 542 / Erazo Cruz was wounded. 543 / The 
calibre of the bullet extracted from the body of Alvarez Martinez was 
5.56 mm, 544 / which is the calibre used in the M-16. 

The third attacker fled the scene and has never been identified. The 
Cherokee picked up the man with the M-16 and likewise left the scene for an 
unknown destination. 545 / 

Mr. Guerrero and his bodyguard were taken to the Medical Surgical Hospital, 
where Mr. Guerrero died the same day. His daughter-in-law survived the attack 
unharmed . 

Subsequent events 

The paraffin tests performed on Alvarez Martinez and Erazo Cruz the 
following day by officers of the National Police were positive. 546 / 

Erazo Cruz stated at the National Police medical clinic that he was a 
member of the FPL urban commandos and had participated in the assassination on 
the orders of the FMLN command, transmitted through another member of the 
organization. According to this statement, all he knew was that an important 
politician was to be assassinated. On further questioning, he changed his story 
and said that a certain "Manuel" had simply told him they were going to 
commandeer a vehicle. 547 / 

In his second statement, made to the judge of the Sixth Criminal Court, 
Erazo Cruz confirmed his first statement, with some changes. According to this 
version, "Manuel" had told him they were going to commandeer a vehicle with 
tinted glass windows. They had gone up and down the boulevard several times 
without finding the vehicle. When they came to the corner where the "Biggest" 
restaurant is situated, his two companions suddenly started running towards a 
vehicle. "Manuel" took up position behind the vehicle and shot into the back of 
it, while "Efrain" stood in front and shot into the front of it. 

According to Erazo Cruz, when this happened he ran to the pavement in front 
of the "Biggest" restaurant. From there he saw a man with a rifle get out of a 
car behind the vehicle at which "Manuel" and "Efrain" were firing and shoot at 
"Manuel". At that moment he himself felt an impact and fell to the ground. He 
did not know where "Efrain" went or whether he had been wounded. 548/ 


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On the basis of these statements, the trial judge ordered that Erazo Cruz 
be detained pending trial. 549 / After recovering from his wounds, he was held 
in the Mariona prison. This prison was attacked by FAL members; Erazo Cruz 
escaped with other prisoners and reached an FMLN camp. 550 / 

In September 1991, troops of the Atlacatl Battalion wounded and captured 
Erazo Cruz. The soldiers took him to hospital and he was subsequently committed 
to prison. 

The public hearing was held on 21 July 1992 in the Sixth Criminal Court. 
Erazo Cruz was accused of aggravated homicide, 551 / causing grievous bodily 
harm, 552 / being a member of a subversive association, 553 / and escape involving 
the use of violence. 554 / During the trial, Erazo Cruz denied participating in 
the crime, despite his judicial confession. He claimed that he was passing by 
the scene of the crime when he found himself caught in the gunfire; he was 
wounded and was, he alleged, forced to confess that he was responsible. 

The jury acquitted Erazo Cruz of the charges of homicide and causing 
grievous bodily harm. 555 / He was freed in mid-August 1992. 

Responsibility of the guerrillas and participation of Erazo Cruz 

FMLN admitted a certain degree of responsibility for the assassination of 
Mr. Guerrero. Shortly after the crime, FMLN spokesmen said he had been killed 
when the members of the urban commandos tried to steal his car. This version 
coincides with parts of the original statements by Erazo Cruz, including his 
judicial confession. 

Furthermore, the 45 calibre and 9 mm revolvers used in the assassination 
were typical of the weapons used by the urban commandos. Moreover, although 
Erazo Cruz was acquitted and denied any participation when he appeared before 
the Commission, there is substantial evidence that he took part in the crime. 

An eyewitness who had not spoken before identified him as one of the attackers. 
The paraffin test was positive, showing he had fired a gun. There are also 
contradictions in parts of his testimony to CIHD. 556 / 

The FMLN members interviewed by the Commission said that they did not know 
Erazo Cruz before the assassination and did not have any information on 
Alvarez Martinez and the other participants, nor did they know anything about 
the crime. Nevertheless, the Commission received reliable evidence indicating 
that Erazo Cruz belonged to the guerrilla forces at the time when Mr. Guerrero 
was assassinated. 

On the other hand, the Commission received information to the effect that 
Mr. Guerrero was assassinated because he had obtained incriminating evidence on 
those allegedly responsible in the Jesuit case. This version was made public in 
January 1992, when Marta Aracely Guerrero de Paredes, Mr. Guerrero's daughter, 
said that on the day he died her father had been carrying documents revealing 
the identity of those who had killed the six Jesuit priests. 557 / 

Mr. Guerrero had used his political influence to obtain information. A few 
days before he died, at least one friend warned him that his life was in danger 
and that he should stop investigating the Jesuit case. 


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The attack on Mr. Guerrero certainly did not occur as a result of an 
attempt to steal his car. The attackers never addressed a word to the occupants 
of the car, which was, moreover, hit by so many bullets that it could not be 
used again. 

The role which the Cherokee-type vehicle played in the incident casts 
further doubts on the identity of those responsible for planning the 
assassination. Generally speaking, Cherokee vehicles were used in official 
circles and, similarly, M-16 rifles were used by members of the armed forces and 
bodyguards. The whereabouts of the Cherokee and its occupants is unknown. 

FINDINGS 

Taking into account its consideration of the available documents and the 
direct testimony received, including the new evidence, the Commission finds that 
there is full evidence that Mr. Guerrero's death resulted not from an attempt to 
steal his car but from an intention to kill the driver of the car, i.e. 

Mr. Guerrero. 

Mr. Guerrero died as a result of deliberate action aimed at killing him. 
Although Cesar Ernesto Erazo Cruz was acquitted at the trial, there is every 
evidence that he participated in the assassination. The Commission tried 
unsuccessfully to obtain significant information both within and outside 
El Salvador to confirm or disprove its investigating hypotheses. Although there 
is sufficient evidence that Erazo Cruz was at the time an active FMLN member, a 
fact which suggests that a more thorough investigation of FMLN responsibility 
for the assassination is called for, the available evidence did not allow the 
Commission, on completion of its work, to reach full agreement on this case. 

(g) UNITED STATES SOLDIERS WHO SURVIVED THE SHOOTING DOWN 
OF A HELICOPTER 

SUMMARY OF THE CASE 

On 2 January 1991, a United States helicopter gunship was shot down by an 
FMLN patrol in San Francisco canton, Lolotique district. Department of 
San Miguel, while flying at low altitude towards its base at Soto Cano, 

Honduras . 

The pilot, Daniel F. Scott, was killed and in the crash and 
Lt . Colonel David H. Pickett and Corporal Earnest G. Dawson were wounded; all 
were United States nationals. Members of the patrol approached the helicopter 
and fired at the survivors from a certain distance. The patrol left the dead 
United States soldier and the two wounded soldiers at the scene and departed, 
carrying off weapons and equipment from the helicopter. Shortly afterwards, a 
member of the patrol was sent back to the scene and killed the two wounded men. 


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DESCRIPTION OF THE FACTS 

At about 1.40 p.m. on 2 January 1991, a United States armed forces UH-1H 
helicopter took off from the Ilopango airport, San Salvador, with a crew 
consisting of the following United States military personnel: 

Lt . Colonel David H. Pickett, Corporal Earnest G. Dawson and the pilot, 

Daniel F. Scott. Pickett was Commander of the Fourth Battalion of the 
22nd Airborne Regiment, based in Soto Cano, Honduras, where they expected to 
arrive shortly after 5 p.m. 

At about 2 p.m., the helicopter was flying over San Francisco canton at an 
altitude of between 30 and 50 metres. It was flying low in order to be less 
vulnerable to possible guerrilla missile attacks, and also because, if it was 
shot down, there would be more likelihood of the occupants surviving. 

That day, seven armed combatants of the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo 
(ERP) an FMLN member organization, were on patrol in San Francisco canton, 
Lolotique district. Department of San Miguel. Severiano Fuentes Fuentes, 
"Aparicio", a political leader of that organization in the area, was in command 
of the patrol, which in addition consisted of Antonio Bonilla Rivas, "Ulises", 
Daniel Alvarado Guevara, "Macaco", Digna Chicas, "Doris", and 
Maria Lita Fernandez, "Carmen". They were accompanied by 

Santos Guevara Portillo, "Dominguez", and Fernan Fernandez Arevalo, "Porfirio". 

On sighting the helicopter, the patrol fired their M-16 and AK-47 rifles at 
it. The helicopter crashed some 500 metres away. 

As the autopsy subsequently showed, the pilot, Scott, was killed when the 
helicopter crashed. The ERP patrol approached firing and wounded the two 
survivors . 

One member of the patrol went to San Francisco canton, some 500 metres 
away, and came back with about 10 of the inhabitants. They placed the two 
wounded men and Scott's body some metres away from the helicopter and took back 
to San Francisco the articles which the combatants pointed out to them. The 
latter then set fire to the helicopter. 

There is sufficient proof that Severiano Fuentes Fuentes, "Aparicio", 
ordered Daniel Alvarado Guevara, "Macaco", to kill the two wounded men and that 
"Macaco" refused to obey. When the patrol had moved about 100 metres away, 
Fernan Fernandez Arevalo, "Porfirio", on the orders of Fuentes, came back and 
killed the wounded men. 

Subsequent events 

Some inhabitants of San Francisco told the authorities what had happened. 
The same night, the bodies were found and transferred by helicopter to Third 
Brigade headquarters, where they were examined by a justice of the peace. They 
were subsequently transferred to Ilopango airport, in San Salvador, where they 
were handed over to the United States authorities. 


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The following day, 3 January, a group of United States military personnel, 
accompanied by Salvadorian officers, inspected the remains of the helicopter and 
interviewed a number of local inhabitants. 

The news of the shooting down of the helicopter and the execution of the 
wounded soldiers was disseminated the same day. 

FMLN, via Radio Venceremos, began by denying that any wounded men had been 
executed. On 7 January, it acknowledged that this might have happened and 
announced that an investigation would be undertaken. On 9 January, it admitted 
that the wounded men had been executed and on 18 January it announced that 
"Dominguez" and "Porfirio" would be tried for the offence. A correction was 
subsequently issued to the effect that "Aparicio" and not "Dominguez" was 
involved . 

On 17 March 1992, Fuentes ("Aparicio") and Fernandez ("Porfirio") 
voluntarily appeared before the Cinameca Court of First Instance and were sent 
to the Mariona Prison, where they remain. 

Action by the Commission 

The Commission on the Truth examined the materials in the judicial dossier, 
the results of the investigations carried out by United States experts and the 
documentation relating to the investigation made by FMLN, which was supplied by 
the latter. It interviewed five of the seven combatants who participated in the 
incident, together with a number of inhabitants of San Francisco canton and 
other people who could provide relevant information. 

FINDINGS 

The Commission considers that there is sufficient proof that United States 
soldiers Lt . Colonel David H. Pickett and Corporal Earnest G. Dawson, who 
survived the shooting down of the helicopter by an ERP unit, but were wounded 
and defenceless, were executed, in violation of international humanitarian law, 
by Fernan Fernandez Arevalo, acting on the orders of Severiano Fuentes Fuentes. 
The Commission has found no evidence that other members of the unit participated 
in the execution. 

The Commission has likewise found no evidence that the executions were 
ordered by higher levels of command, or that they were carried out in accordance 
with an ERP or FMLN policy of killing prisoners. FMLN acknowledged the criminal 
nature of the incident and detained and tried the accused. 

3 . ABDUCTIONS 


DUARTE AND VILLEDA 

On 10 September 1985, Ines Guadalupe Duarte Duran, daughter of 
President Jose Napoleon Duarte, and her friend. Ana Cecilia Villeda, arrived by 
car at the gates of a private university in San Salvador. They were followed in 
a van by two bodyguards assigned to protect them. As the two vehicles came to a 
stop, other vehicles positioned themselves so as to block traffic, while a 


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number of armed individuals killed the bodyguards and forced the two women into 
a truck. 558 / The two women were taken to a guerrilla camp. 

Four days after the incident, the self-styled Pedro Pablo Castillo commando 
of FMLN publicly announced that it was responsible. 

On 24 October, after several weeks of negotiations in which the Salvadorian 
church and diplomats from the region acted as mediators in secret talks, 

Ines Duarte and her friend were released in exchange for 22 political 
prisoners. 559 / The operation also included the release of 25 mayors and local 
officials abducted by FMLN in exchange for 101 war-wounded guerrillas, whom the 
Government allowed to leave the country. The entire process of exchanging 
prisoners, which took place in various parts of the country, was carried out 
through the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

In a communique from the FMLN General Command broadcast by Radio Venceremos 
on the day Ines Duarte was released, the General Command assumed full 
responsibility for the operation and described the actions of the commando, 
including the killing of the bodyguards, as "impeccable". 

The abduction of Ines Duarte and Ana Cecilia Villeda constitutes a taking 
of hostages and is therefore a violation of international humanitarian law. 560 / 

F. MURDERS OF JUDGES 

In the 1980s, it was dangerous to be a judge in El Salvador. As can be 
seen from the reports in this chapter concerning the murders of Monsignor Romero 
and the Dutch journalists, some judges, after being threatened or attacked, were 
forced to resign and even to flee the country. 

What is more, according to a report given to the Commission on the Truth by 
the Supreme Court of Justice, 28 judges were murdered in El Salvador in the 
1980s. 561 / 

One of them, Mr. Francisco Jose Guerrero, was assassinated after completing 
his term of office as President of the Supreme Court. Three others murdered 
were judges of courts of first instance and the remaining 24 were justices of 
the peace; of the latter, 20 were murdered during the period 1980-1982. 

The Commission received complaints and testimony from independent sources 
regarding some of the cases referred to it by the Supreme Court and was able to 
investigate two of them. As to the other murders, there was evidence that some 
had been perpetrated by FMLN and others by the death squads and in two cases the 
judges appear to have died in combat. 

The case investigated in depth was the assassination of 
Mr. Francisco Jose Guerrero, the report of which is contained in this chapter. 
The results of the investigation of the murder of a justice of the peace are 
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JUSTICE OF THE PEACE OF CAROLINA 

Jose Apolinar Martinez, justice of the peace of the town of Carolina in the 
Department of San Miguel, was shot to death at his home on 14 June 1988. His 
three-year-old daughter was also wounded in the attack and subsequently 
underwent weeks of medical treatment. 

There is strong evidence that FMLN was responsible. About one year 
previously, the judge had received threatening letters from the Ejercito 
Revolucionario del Pueblo, one of the armed groups in FMLN. The murder took 
place in an area at least partially controlled by FMLN. The killers 
subsequently fled towards an area under greater FMLN control. They were wearing 
military uniforms and carrying rifles. A piece of paper indicating that FMLN 
assumed responsibility for the murder was found at the scene of the crime. 

On the other hand, a long time elapsed between the threats and the murder. 
Furthermore, there was no pattern of executing justices of the peace at that 
time. Although many justices of the peace were murdered in the period 
1980-1982, only two such murders, including this one, occurred between 1986 and 
1988 . 


Nevertheless, taking into account all the circumstances and all the 
evidence, the Commission finds that there is sufficient evidence to attribute 
this murder to FMLN members. The murder of justice of the peace 
Jose Apolinar Martinez violated international humanitarian law. 


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V. RECOMMENDATIONS 


INTRODUCTION 

As part of its mandate, the Commission is called upon to make 
recommendations. Indeed, under the terms of its mandate, 

"The mandate of the Commission shall include recommending the legal, 
political or administrative measures which can be inferred from the results 
of the investigation. Such recommendations may include measures to prevent 
the repetition of such acts, and initiatives to promote national 
reconciliation" . 

The Commission decided to first comment generally on the results of its 
investigations, the principles on which these investigations and its 
recommendations are based and the persons and institutions to whom they are 
addressed, before making specific recommendations. 

1. General conclusions 


The causes and conditions which generated the large number of serious acts 
of violence in El Salvador derive from very complex circumstances. The 
country's history and its deeply rooted relations of injustice cannot be 
attributed simply to one sector of the population or one group of persons. This 
or that Government institution, certain historical traditions, even the 
ideological struggle between East and West which went on until only recently, 
and of which El Salvador was a victim and an episode, are mere components. All 
these factors help to explain the complex situation in El Salvador during the 
12-year period which concerns us. The Commission was not called upon to deal 
with all these factors, nor could it do so. Instead, it focused on certain 
considerations which prompted it to formulate its basic recommendations in such 
a way that this situation might be fully understood. 

The lack of human rights guarantees in El Salvador and the fact that a 
society has operated outside the principles of a State subject to the rule of 
law imposes a serious responsibility on the Salvadorian State itself, rather 
than on one or other of its Governments. The political, legislative and 
institutional mechanisms required to ensure the existence of a society subject 
to the rule of law existed in theory, at least in part, but the reality was not 
what it should have been, perhaps as a consequence of excessive pragmatism. 

With the passage of time, the military establishment and, more specifically, 
some elements within the armed forces, having embarked upon a course from which 
they found it difficult to extricate themselves, ended up totally controlling 
the civilian authorities, frequently in collusion with some influential 
civilians . 

None of the three branches of Government - judicial, legislative or 
executive - was capable of restraining the military' s overwhelming control of 
society. The judiciary was weakened as it fell victim to intimidation and the 
foundations were laid for its corruption; since it had never enjoyed genuine 
institutional independence from the legislative and executive branches, its 
ineffectiveness steadily increased until it became, through its inaction or its 
appalling submissiveness, a factor which contributed to the tragedy suffered by 


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the country. The various, frequently opportunistic, alliances which political 
leaders (legislators as well as members of the executive branch) forged with the 
military establishment and with members of the judiciary had the effect of 
further weakening civilian control over the military, police and security 
forces, all of which formed part of the military establishment. 

The wide network of illegal armed groups, known as "death squads", which 
operated both within and outside the institutional framework with complete 
impunity, spread terror throughout Salvadorian society. They originated 
basically as a civilian operation, designed, financed and controlled by 
civilians. The core of serving officers, whose role was originally limited to 
that of mere executants and executioners, gradually seized control of the death 
squads for personal gain or to promote certain ideological or political 
objectives. Thus, within the military establishment and in contradiction with 
its real purpose and mandate, impunity vis-a-vis the civilian authorities became 
the rule. The institution as a whole was a hostage to specific groups of 
officers, which were sometimes formed even as their members graduated from 
officer training school, abused their power and their relations with certain 
civilian circles and intimidated fellow officers who were reluctant to join in 
or to collaborate with their corrupt and illegal practices. 

The internal armed conflict between opposing forces grew in intensity and 
magnitude. The inevitable outcome was acts of violence, some of which were 
brought before the Commission with anxiety and anticipation. The more bloody 
the conflict became, and the more widespread, the greater the power of the 
military hierarchy and of those who commanded armed insurgent groups. The 
outcome of that vicious circle was a situation in which certain elements of 
society found themselves immune from any governmental or political restraints 
and thus forged for themselves the most abject impunity. It was they who 
wielded the real power of the State, expressed in the most primitive terms, 
while the executive, legislative and judicial branches were unable to play any 
real role as branches of government. The sad fact is that they were 
transformed, in practice, into mere fagades with marginal governmental 
authority . 

How else can the modus operandi of the death squads be understood? The 
disappearance of large numbers of people, the assassination attempts on 
important Government officials, church leaders and judges, and the fact that the 
perpetrators of these atrocities were only rarely brought to trial. What is 
ironic is that the web of corruption, timidity and weakness within the judiciary 
and its investigative bodies greatly impeded the effective functioning of the 
judicial system even where crimes attributed to FMLN were involved. 

In order to avoid any risk of reverting to the status quo ante , it is 
essential that El Salvador establish and strengthen the proper balance of power 
among the executive, legislative and judicial branches and that it institute 
full and indisputable civilian control over all military, paramilitary, 
intelligence and security forces. The recommendations which follow are intended 
to outline the basic prerequisites for this transition and to ensure that it 
leads to a democratic society in which the rule of law prevails and human rights 
are fully respected and guaranteed. 


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2 . Principles 

The report which the Commission is submitting is part of a process 
initiated, according to the Geneva Agreement of 4 April 1990, for the purpose of 
ending the armed conflict by political means as speedily as possible, promoting 
the democratization of the country, guaranteeing unrestricted respect for human 
rights and reunifying Salvadorian society. The first of these objectives has 
already been achieved. The remaining goals, however, require a continuous and, 
in some respects, permanent effort. These goals are complementary: democracy 

loses ground when human rights are not fully respected; human rights cannot be 
protected from arbitrariness without the rule of law which is the expression of 
the democratic system of government; and unless rights and freedoms are 
respected and guaranteed for all, it will be difficult to speak of a reunified 
society . 

The Commission's recommendations, while they bear fully on the results of 
its investigations, provide the means for pursuing these objectives, which were 
defined in the context of the country' s recent history by the Salvadorians who 
negotiated the peace agreements, and by the decisive majority which supported 
them, as the objectives which must be achieved in the society which they are now 
beginning to build. Accordingly, these recommendations are based on the 
following principles: 

One : Democracy, which leaves the fundamental decisions as to the destiny 
of society in the hands of the people, and which gives priority to dialogue and 
negotiation as basic political tools. 

Two : Participation, which integrates minorities with the majority and 

gives pride of place to democracy as a model respectful of the individual and 
collective dimensions of human coexistence; also, a participation which promotes 
solidarity and respect among individuals. 

Three : The rule of law, in which the primacy of and respect for the law is 

the basis of a culture which guarantees equality and proscribes all 
arbitrariness . 

Four : Respect for human rights, which are the raison d' etre of the above 
principles and the basis of a society organized to serve people, all of whom are 
vested with equal freedom and dignity. 

The consolidation of the supremacy of civilian authority in Salvadorian 
society and the necessary subordination of the armed forces to it stem directly 
from the democratic concept of the rule of law, the primordial value of the 
dignity of the human person and, hence, full respect for his rights. 

The peace agreements envisage a new concept of national defence and public 
security which represents significant progress towards establishing the 
supremacy of civilian authority. It is essential that all, absolutely all, the 
agreements on these issues be complied with fully. 

The Commission also underscores the special care which must be taken in 
implementing the provisions of the peace agreements, and the recommendations in 
this report, for strengthening a comprehensive system for the protection of 


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human rights and an independent, strong and effective judiciary. The glaring 
deficiencies experienced by the country in this regard were a prime cause of the 
occurrence and systematic repetition of extremely grave human rights violations, 
and such violations will be deemed to have been completely eradicated only when 
this objective is achieved. 

3. Persons and institutions to whom the recommendations are addressed 


The Commission's mandate does not specify or limit the persons or 
institutions to whom its recommendations are to be addressed. What it does 
establish is a procedure as regards the undertaking given by the Parties, 
namely, the Government and FMLN, concerning these recommendations. In signing 
the Mexico Agreements, the Parties created the mechanism which is now completing 
its work. They undertook to carry out the Commission's recommendations 
(agreement on the Commission on the Truth, para. 10) and must therefore 
implement, without delay, those recommendations which are addressed directly to 
them. Where the recommendations are addressed to others or, particularly in the 
case of the Government, where they require action or initiatives by State organs 
other than the executive branch, the Government's undertaking means that it must 
take the necessary action and initiatives to ensure that the recommendations are 
put into practice by the appropriate State machinery. 

It should also be noted that, with the armed conflict at an end, it is 
natural that the bulk of the recommendations, being institutional in nature, 
should be addressed to the official sector. The most crucial recommendation 
which would have had to be made to FMLN would have been to abandon the use of 
arms as a means of political struggle and, in any case, to renounce acts and 
practices such as those described in this report. This objective has been 
achieved through the peace agreements and their implementation, although this 
does not prevent the Commission from making a strong appeal to FMLN to ensure 
that its action as a political force is always accompanied by militant 
renunciation of all forms of violent struggle and constant adherence to the 
legal and civilized means proper to democracy, renouncing for ever the methods 
which resulted in the serious acts of violence described herein that were 
committed under its authority. 

The Commission will now make its recommendations. Clearly, not all of them 
have the same importance or the same meaning. Some of them, which are inferred 
directly from the results of the investigation and must be acted on urgently, 
are aimed at the immediate removal of factors relating directly to the acts 
investigated or to the fact that the latter were not cleared up when they should 
have been. Another group of recommendations seeks to remedy certain structural 
defects linked directly to the acts examined by the Commission. A third group 
concerns institutional reforms designed to prevent the repetition of such acts. 
Lastly, the Commission will present its considerations and recommendations 
concerning national reconciliation. 


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I. RECOMMENDATIONS INFERRED DIRECTLY FROM THE RESULTS OF THE INVESTIGATION 

In this section, the Commission will make recommendations which are the 
direct and inevitable consequence of its findings concerning acts which it has 
been called upon to investigate and clarify, in the light of realities connected 
directly with them which still pervade the country. By their nature, these 
recommendations are the ones which must be carried out most urgently. 

The Commission makes the following recommendations which must be carried 
out without delay: 

A. DISMISSAL FROM THE ARMED FORCES 

The findings on the cases investigated by the Commission on the Truth and 
published in this report give the names of officers of the Salvadorian armed 
forces who are personally implicated in the perpetration or cover-up of serious 
acts of violence, or who did not fulfil their professional obligation to 
initiate or cooperate in the investigation and punishment of such acts. For 
those officers who are still serving in the armed forces, the Commission 
recommends that they be dismissed from their posts and discharged from the armed 
forces. For those now in retirement or discharged, the Commission recommends 
application of the measure described in paragraph C below. 

B. DISMISSAL FROM THE CIVIL SERVICE 

The findings on the cases investigated by the Commission on the Truth also 
give the names of civilian officials in the civil service and the judiciary. 
These officials, acting in their professional capacity, covered up serious acts 
of violence or failed to discharge their responsibilities in the investigation 
of such acts. For these persons, the Commission recommends that they be 
dismissed from the civil service or judicial posts they currently occupy. For 
those who no longer occupy such posts, the Commission recommends application of 
the measure described in paragraph C below. 

C. DISQUALIFICATION FROM HOLDING PUBLIC OFFICE 

Under no circumstances would it be advisable to allow persons who committed 
acts of violence such as those which the Commission has investigated to 
participate in the running of the State. The Commission therefore believes that 
the persons referred to in the preceding paragraphs, as well as any others 
equally implicated in the perpetration of the acts of violence described in this 
report, including the civilians and members of the FMLN Command named in the 
findings on individual cases, should be disqualified from holding any public 
post or office for a period of not less than 10 years, and should be 
disqualified permanently from any activity related to public security or 
national defence. While the Commission does not have the power to apply such a 
provision directly, it does have the power to recommend to the National 
Commission for the Consolidation of Peace (COPAZ) that it prepare a preliminary 
legislative draft on this issue, offering proper guarantees in accordance with 
Salvadorian law, and that it submit such draft to the Legislative Assembly for 
early approval. It also has the power to recommend to the bodies authorized to 
make appointments to public office that they refrain from appointing the persons 
referred to above. 


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D. JUDICIAL REFORM 

All aspects of the agreed judicial reform must be put into practice. Even 
if this reform must be complemented by additional measures, some of which will 
be the subject of other recommendations by the Commission, the agreements 
reached on this issue during the peace process must be complied with immediately 
and in full. Two specific aspects should be noted: 

(a) REFORM OF THE SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE 

The constitutional reform approved as part of the peace process provided a 
new procedure for the election of judges to the Supreme Court of Justice, the 
body which heads the judicial branch. Those innovations cannot be put into 
effect until the current judges' terms expire, with the result that the Court 
continues to consist of persons elected in accordance with the rules that 
applied before the constitutional reform and the peace agreements. Given the 
tremendous responsibility which the judiciary bears for the impunity with which 
serious acts of violence such as those described in this report occurred, there 
is no justification for further postponing the appointment of a new Supreme 
Court of Justice, whose current members should make way for the immediate 
implementation of the constitutional reform by resigning from their posts. 

(b) NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE JUDICIARY 

The peace agreements provided for the establishment of a National Council 
of the Judiciary independent from the organs of State and from political parties 
(Mexico Agreements: "Political agreements elaborating on the constitutional 

reform", A (b) (1); Chapultepec Peace Agreement, chap. Ill (1) (A)) . However, 

the National Council of the Judiciary Act, adopted in December 1992 by the 
Legislative Assembly, contains provisions which, in practice, leave the 
dismissal of some members of that Council to the discretion of the Supreme Court 
of Justice. The Commission recommends that this system be changed and that it 
be possible to dismiss members of the Council only for precise legal causes, to 
be weighed by the Legislative Assembly which, being the body constitutionally 
authorized to appoint such members, should, logically, also be the one to decide 
on their dismissal. 

E. JUDGES 

The Career Judicial Service Act, the amendment of which, the Commission 
understands, is under discussion for the date on which this report will be 
submitted, should establish that only those judges who, according to a rigorous 
evaluation made by the National Council of the Judiciary, have demonstrated 
judicial aptitude, efficiency and concern for human rights and offer every 
guarantee of independence, judicial discretion, honesty and impartiality in 
their actions may remain in the career judicial service. 

F. PENALTIES 

One of the direct consequences of the clarification of the serious acts 
which the Commission has investigated should, under normal circumstances, be the 
punishment which those responsible for such acts deserve. However, in view of 
current conditions in the country and the situation of the administration of 


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justice, the Commission is facing insurmountable difficulties which it will 
describe below. 

It is not within the Commission' s powers to directly impose penalties on 
those responsible: it does not have judicial functions and cannot therefore 

decide to impose a particular penalty on a person. That is a function which, by 
its nature, properly belongs to the courts, a question which raises serious 
problems for the Commission. Accordingly, the problem and possible solutions to 
it cannot be discussed in isolation from the current situation in the country. 

One painfully clear aspect of that situation is the glaring inability of 
the judicial system either to investigate crimes or to enforce the law, 
especially when it comes to crimes committed with the direct or indirect support 
of State institutions. It was because these shortcomings were so apparent that 
the Government and FMLN agreed to create an instrument such as the Commission on 
the Truth to perform tasks which should normally be undertaken by the bodies 
responsible for the administration of justice. Had the judiciary functioned 
satisfactorily, not only would the acts which the Commission has had to 
investigate have been cleared up at the proper time, but the corresponding 
penalties would have been imposed. The inability of the courts to apply the law 
to acts of violence committed under the direct or indirect cover of the public 
authorities is part and parcel of the situation in which those acts took place 
and is inseparable from them. This is a conclusion which emerges clearly from 
most of the cases of this kind examined in this report. 

We must ask ourselves, therefore, whether the judiciary is capable, all 
things being equal, of fulfilling the requirements of justice. If we take a 
detached view of the situation, this question cannot be answered in the 
affirmative. The structure of the judiciary is still substantially the same as 
it was when the acts described in this report took place. The reforms of the 
judicial system agreed on during the peace process have been implemented to only 
a limited extent, so that they have yet to have a significant impact which 
translates into a transformation of the administration of justice. What is 
more, the judiciary is still run by people whose omissions were part of the 
situation which must now be overcome, and there is nothing to indicate that 
their customary practices will change in the near future. 

These considerations confront the Commission with a serious dilemma. The 
question is not whether the guilty should be punished, but whether justice can 
be done. Public morality demands that those responsible for the crimes 
described here be punished. However, El Salvador has no system for the 
administration of justice which meets the minimum requirements of objectivity 
and impartiality so that justice can be rendered reliably. This is a part of 
the country' s current reality and overcoming it urgently should be a primary 
objective for Salvadorian society. 

The Commission does not believe that a reliable solution can be found to 
the problems it has examined by tackling them in the context which is primarily 
responsible for them. The situation described in this report would not have 
occurred if the judicial system had functioned properly. Clearly, that system 
has still not changed enough to foster a feeling of justice which could promote 
national reconciliation. On the contrary, a judicial debate in the current 
context, far from satisfying a legitimate desire for justice, could revive old 


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frustrations, thereby impeding the achievement of that cardinal objective, 
reconciliation. That being the current situation, it is clear that, for now, 
the only judicial system which the Commission could trust to administer justice 
in a full and timely manner would be one which had been restructured in the 
light of the peace agreements. 

II. ERADICATION OF STRUCTURAL CAUSES LINKED DIRECTLY TO THE ACTS EXAMINED 

The peace process led to a set of political agreements which are clearly 
supported by society as a whole and which introduce major structural reforms and 
address many defects which contributed to the situation described in this 
report. As a general principle, the Commission recommends most emphatically 
that all the agreements be implemented in full: that was the undertaking made 

by those who negotiated and concluded the agreements and it is also what the 
Salvadorian people expects, believes in and hopes for. 

Without prejudice to these general comments, the Commission wishes to make 
some additional recommendations: 

A . Reforms in the armed forces 

1. The transition to the new model of the armed forces outlined in the 
peace agreements and in the constitutional reform should be made rapidly and 
transparently, under the close supervision of the civilian authorities. It is 
recommended that a special committee of the Legislative Assembly be appointed 
for that purpose, comprising the various political forces represented in the 
Assembly. Special attention should be paid to the subordination of the military 
establishment to the civilian authorities, democratic control over promotions to 
senior ranks and positions of command, rigorous budgetary management, greater 
decentralization of the military structure, application of the new doctrine and 
new educational system of the armed forces and steady professionalization of 
officers . 

2. The comprehensive review of the military legislation in force should 
be completed without delay, in order to bring it fully into line with the new 
Political Constitution, the new doctrine of the armed forces and the 
requirements of respect for human rights. 

3. Among the reforms referred to in the preceding paragraph, a simple and 
practical mechanism must be established to resolve the situation of subordinates 
who receive illegal orders, so that they are protected if they refuse to obey. 
The provision of article 173 of army regulations which requires a subordinate to 
obey, at all times and irrespective of risk, the orders he receives from a 
superior, should be repealed, and the pledge so to obey should be eliminated 
from the formula used when swearing the solemn oath of allegiance to the flag as 
part of military ceremonial. It must be made clear, in any case, that so-called 
"due obedience" does not exonerate a person who carries out an order which is 
clearly illegal. 

4 . The above-mentioned reforms should also provide that all actions 
whereby members of the armed forces take advantage of their status to commit 
abuses of power or violations of human rights are to be regarded as serious 
offences against the military institution, and should stipulate the 


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administrative and legal penalties to which the perpetrators are liable, 
including discharge, without prejudice to the imposition of the corresponding 
criminal penalties, where appropriate. A strict system of discharges should not 
allow persons who have been discharged for the type of conduct described, or for 
other reasons which adversely affect the service or the institution, to be 
readmitted to the institution. 

5. Military curricula, from the Military College to General Staff 
courses, should include thorough training in human rights. The assistance of a 
highly qualified civilian teaching staff will be required for this. 

6. In selecting advanced training courses for officers of the armed 
forces to follow abroad, care will have to be taken to ensure that such courses 
are based on a doctrine of democracy and respect for human rights. 

7. The armed forces Court of Honour created by the peace agreements 
should give priority to the eradication of any vestige of a relationship between 
serving and retired members of the armed forces and now-disbanded paramilitary 
bodies or any illegal armed group. 

B . Reforms in the area of public security 

One of the prominent features of the peace agreements was the decision to 
disband the former public security forces (CUSEP) , which were organically linked 
to the armed forces, and to entrust civilian security to the National Civil 
Police, a new and absolutely civilian entity. The Commission recommends most 
emphatically that the guidelines for the new body be scrupulously observed. The 
demilitarization of the police is a big step forward in El Salvador and it must 
be ensured that there are no links between the National Civil Police and the 
former security forces or any other branch of the armed forces. 

C . Investigation of illegal groups 

One of the most horrendous sources of the violence which swept the country 
in recent years was the activity of private armed groups which operated with 
complete impunity. All necessary measures must be taken to ensure that they are 
disbanded. Given the country's history, prevention is essential in this area. 
There is always a risk that such groups may become active again. The Commission 
recommends that a thorough investigation of this issue be undertaken immediately 
and that, since the newly established National Civil Police is still in its 
early stages, assistance be sought, through channels which the confidentiality 
of the issue requires, from the police of friendly countries which are in a 
position to offer it. 

III. INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS TO PREVENT THE REPETITION OF SUCH ACTS 

This too is an issue which is intrinsically linked to the implementation of 
the reforms agreed to in all the peace agreements, which are designed to provide 
the country with a modern, democratic institutional framework adapted to the 
requirements of the rule of law. 


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The Commission believes, however, that there are some points which should 
be emphasized, either because of their importance or because they were not 
clearly resolved in the peace agreements. 

A . Administration of justice 

One of the most pressing requirements if democracy in El Salvador is to be 
consolidated into the genuine rule of law is the transformation of its 
judicial system. The judicial reform programmes currently being worked out 
should be intensified and put into practice as soon as possible. The 
effort which the Ministry of Justice is making to link judicial reform to 
the democratization process is highly commendable and should be carried to 
its conclusion. 

There are also some issues which are important enough to warrant a separate 
comment by the Commission: 

1 . One of the most glaring deficiencies which must be overcome in the 
Salvadorian judicial system is the tremendous concentration of 
functions in the Supreme Court of Justice, and in its President in 
particular, as the body which heads the judiciary. This concentration 
of functions seriously undermines the independence of lower court 
judges and lawyers, to the detriment of the system as a whole. The 
formal origin of this problem is constitutional, with the result that 
solving it requires analysing whether the relevant provisions should 
be amended, through the procedure provided for in the Constitution 
itself, so that the Court, without losing its status as the country's 
highest court, is not also the administrative head of the judiciary. 

2. Judges should not be appointed and removed by the Supreme Court of 
Justice, but by an independent National Council of the Judiciary. 

3. Each judge should be responsible for administering the resources of 
the court under his jurisdiction and should be accountable for them to 
the National Council of the Judiciary. 

4 . The functions of granting authorization to practise as a lawyer or 
notary and suspending or penalizing members of those professions 
should be attributed to a special independent body and not to the 
Supreme Court of Justice. 

5. The budget allocation for the administration of justice provided for 
in the Constitution should be used to create new courts and improve 
judges' salaries. 

6. The Commission recommends the adoption of the following measures to 
reinforce the application of the right to due process: 

(a) Invalidate extrajudicial confessions. 

(b) Ensure that accused persons, in all circumstances, exercise their 
right to be presumed innocent. 


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(c) Ensure strict compliance with the maximum time-limits for police 
and judicial detention, establishing immediate penalties for 
violators . 

(d) Reinforce exercise of the right to defence starting from the very 
first actions in a proceeding. 

7. The utmost priority should be given to the proper functioning of the 
Judicial Training School, conceived as a study centre not only for 
professional training but also to establish bonds of solidarity among 
judges and a coherent overall vision of the function of the judiciary 
in the State - to quote the peace agreements. There is also a short- 
term need to train new, sound human resources to staff new courts or 
to replace members of the judiciary who, according to the evaluation 
which the Commission has recommended, should not remain in the 
judiciary. This is an area susceptible to constructive, tangible 
international cooperation. The Commission calls on those in a 
position to offer such assistance to do so without delay, as part of 
an accelerated programme of implementation, and even ventures to 
appeal first and foremost to the European Economic Community, because 
of the similarities between the Salvadorian legal system and that of 
several of its member countries. 

B . Protection of human rights 

Many agreements were reached on this issue during the peace negotiations, 
including constitutional and legal reforms and the deployment of a United 
Nations human rights verification mission, something unprecedented in the 
history of the Organization. The Commission's first recommendation is that 
these agreements should be complied with strictly and that ONUSAL 
recommendations on human rights should be implemented. 

In addition to all the proposals advanced in this area as part of the peace 
process, the Commission would like to make the following recommendations, 
fully realizing that some of them can be implemented only through a 
constitutional reform: 

1. The Office of the National Counsel for the Defence of Human Rights 
must be strengthened: 

(a) It would be desirable if the Counsel, with the support of ONUSAL 
and the participation of all governmental and non-governmental 
sectors concerned, made an assessment of the Office's current 
situation and its most immediate priorities and needs, in order 
to secure the means, including international cooperation, to 
achieve those objectives. 

(b) The Office's presence should be extended throughout the country 
through offices in the various departments. 

(c) The Office should make more frequent use of its powers to inspect 
any site or installation in the country, especially where places 
of detention are concerned. 


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2. Measures must be taken to make the remedies of amparo and 

habeas corpus truly effective. To that end, the Commission recommends 
the following: 

(a) Competence to hear these remedies should be broadened in order to 
make them more accessible to the population. All judges of first 
instance should be competent, within their sphere of 
jurisdiction, to hear remedies of amparo or habeas corpus , and 
this competence could be extended to justices of the peace. The 
Supreme Court of Justice should only be the final instance in 
such proceedings . 

(b) Express provision should be made that the remedies of amparo and 
habeas corpus , like the rules of due process, cannot be suspended 
under any circumstances, including during a state of emergency. 

3. The constitutional force of human rights provisions should be 
reaffirmed, including those not set forth expressly in the 
Constitution but in other instruments such as human rights conventions 
binding on El Salvador. 

4. The system of administrative detention also warrants a number of 
changes. This is a matter of prime importance, since violations of 
integrity of person and even disappearances can occur during such 
detention : 

(a) The restrictions as to which officials can order administrative 
detention, which officials can carry it out and for what reasons 
should be spelled out. 

(b) The duration of administrative detention should be kept to the 
absolute minimum. 

(c) The administrative authorities should be stripped of their power 
to impose penalties involving deprivation of liberty. Such 
penalties should be imposed only by the law courts, in the 
context of due process. 

5. It is recommended that the current system of information on detainees 
should be expanded. Through the Office of the National Counsel for 
the Defence of Human Rights, a centralized, up-to-date list should be 
kept of all persons detained for any reason, indicating their location 
and legal status. The competent authorities must inform the Office of 
any detention that is carried out and the personnel involved in the 
arrest . 

6. Any future reform of criminal legislation should give due 
consideration to crimes committed with the direct or indirect support 
of the State apparatus, either by establishing new categories of 
crimes, modifying existing ones or introducing special aggravating 
circumstances . 


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7. Legislation should be passed granting a simple, swift and accessible 
remedy to anyone who has been a victim of a human rights violation 
enabling them to obtain material compensation for the harm suffered. 

8. Certain decisions should also be taken at the international level to 
reinforce the country' s adherence to global and regional systems for 
the protection of human rights. To that end, the Commission 
recommends that El Salvador: 

(a) Ratify the following international instruments: Optional 

Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political 
Rights, Optional Protocol to the American Convention on Human 
Rights (Protocol of San Salvador), Conventions Nos. 87 and 98 of 
the International Labour Organisation, Convention on the 
Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and 
Crimes against Humanity, United Nations Convention against 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and 
Punish Torture. 

(b) Recognize the compulsory jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court 
of Human Rights established by the American Convention on Human 
Rights, as all the other Central American Republics have done. 

C . National Civil Police 

The Commission emphasizes the importance of the establishment and 
functioning of the National Civil Police, in accordance with the model defined 
in the peace agreements, for defending the population and preventing human 
rights violations. In addition to making a general recommendation to this 
effect, it wishes to emphasize criminal investigation, an issue closely linked 
to the impunity which accompanied the serious acts of violence described in this 
report. First, it recommends that every effort be made to put into practice as 
soon as possible the criminal investigation mechanism decided on in the peace 
agreements, which entails joint action by the National Civil Police and the 
Office of the Attorney General of the Republic. This is also an area where 
international technical and financial cooperation can make a substantial 
contribution. Second, it recommends that the Commission for the Investigation 
of Criminal Acts be dissolved: it was through its omissions that serious human 

rights violations during the period under investigation were covered up. 

IV. STEPS TOWARDS NATIONAL RECONCILIATION 

The Geneva Agreement of 4 April 1990, which provided the framework for the 
negotiations and thus for the peace agreements, defined as objectives of the 
process, in addition to guaranteeing unrestricted respect for human rights and 
promoting the democratization of the country, the restoration of peace, national 
reconciliation and the reunification of Salvadorian society. These last two 
goals are complex and do not depend only on the cessation of hostilities but 
also on a process involving several stages that cannot be bypassed. We are 
again faced with inseparable goals. There will be no reunification of 
Salvadorian society without national reconciliation, and the latter will be 
impossible without the fraternal unity of the Salvadorian people. 


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The country must move on from a situation of confrontation to one of calm 
assimilation of all that has happened, in order banish such occurrences from a 
future characterized by a new relationship of solidarity, coexistence and 
tolerance. In order to achieve this, a process of collective reflection on the 
reality of the past few years is crucial, as is a universal determination to 
eradicate this experience forever. 

One bitter but unavoidable step is to look at and acknowledge what happened 
and must never happen again. The Commission took on the difficult task of 
clarifying significant aspects of this reality, which it hopes it has fulfilled 
through this report. The truth is not enough, however, to achieve the goals of 
national reconciliation and the reunification of Salvadorian society. Pardon is 
essential: not a formal pardon which is limited to not imposing penalties, but 

one founded on a universal determination to rectify the mistakes of the past and 
on the certainty that this process will not be complete unless it emphasizes the 
future rather than a past which, no matter how abhorrent the acts which 
occurred, cannot now be altered. 

However, in order to achieve the goal of a pardon, we must pause and weigh 
certain consequences which can be inferred from knowledge of the truth about the 
serious acts described in this report. One such consequence, perhaps the most 
difficult to address in the country's current situation, is that of fulfilling 
the twofold requirements of justice: punishing the guilty and adequately 

compensating the victims and their families. 

The Commission has already referred in its introduction to this chapter of 
the report to the insurmountable difficulties it has encountered in this regard. 
Such difficulties, which it is beyond its power to resolve directly, can be 
attributed to the glaring deficiencies of the judicial system. 

In this connection, the Commission would simply add that, since it is not 
possible to guarantee a proper trial for all those responsible for the crimes 
described here, it is unfair to keep some of them in prison while others who 
planned the crimes or also took part in them remain at liberty. It is not 
within the Commission's power to address this situation, which can only be 
resolved through a pardon after justice has been served. 

However, the Commission fervently hopes that knowledge of the truth, and 
the immediate implementation of the above recommendations which can be inferred 
directly from the investigation, will be an adequate starting-point for national 
reconciliation and for the desired reunification of Salvadorian society. 

But justice does not stop at punishment; it also demands reparation. The 
victims and, in most cases, their families, are entitled to moral and material 
compensation. FMLN must provide such compensation where it is found to have 
been responsible, while this obligation devolves on the State in cases where the 
actions or omissions of the public authorities or their agencies were among the 
causes of the acts of violence described, or in cases where the persons 
responsible enjoyed impunity. However, since the country's financial 
constraints and national reconstruction needs cannot be ignored complementary 
mechanisms along the lines recommended below should be envisaged. 


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A . Material compensation 

1 . It is recommended that a special fund be established, as an 
autonomous body with the necessary legal and administrative 
powers, to award appropriate material compensation to the victims 
of violence in the shortest time possible. The fund should take 
into account the information on the victims reported to the 
Commission on the Truth contained in the annexes to this report. 

2. The fund should receive an appropriate contribution from the 
State but, in view of prevailing economic conditions, should 
receive a substantial contribution from the international 
community. Therefore, without prejudice to the obligations of 
the State and of FMLN, the Commission urgently appeals to the 
international community, especially the wealthier countries and 
those that showed most interest in the conflict and its 
settlement, to establish a fund for that purpose. It also 
suggests that the United Nations Secretariat promote and 
coordinate this initiative. It further recommends that not less 
than 1 per cent of all international assistance that reaches El 
Salvador be set aside for this purpose. 

3. The fund could be managed by a board of directors consisting of 

three members: one appointed by the Government of El Salvador, 

one appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and 
a third chosen by mutual agreement between the two appointed 
members . 

4 . The fund must be free to establish its own rules of procedure and 
to act in accordance with the Commission's recommendations, 
Salvadorian law, international law and general legal principles. 

B . Moral compensation 

The Commission recommends: 

1 . The construction of a national monument in El Salvador bearing 
the names of all the victims of the conflict. 

2. Recognition of the good name of the victims and of the serious 
crimes of which they were victims. 

3. The institution of a national holiday in memory of the victims of 
the conflict and to serve as a symbol of national reconciliation. 

C . Forum for Truth and Reconciliation 


The Commission feels it would be useful if this report and its 
conclusions and recommendations and progress towards national 
reconciliation were analysed not only by the Salvadorian people as a 
whole but also by a special forum comprising the most representative 
sectors of society which, in addition to the above-mentioned 


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objectives, should strive to monitor strict compliance with the 
recommendations . 

It is not for the Commission to indicate how such a forum should be 
established. However, a National Commission for the Consolidation of 
Peace (COPAZ) was established under the peace agreements as "a 
mechanism for the monitoring of and the participation of civilian 
society in the process of change resulting from the negotiations". It 
therefore seems appropriate that the task referred to by the 
Commission should be entrusted primarily to COPAZ. However, given the 
scope the importance of the subject-matter dealt with in this report, 
the Commission would like to suggest to COPAZ that, to this end, it 
consider expanding its membership so that sectors of civilian society 
that are not directly represented in COPAZ can participate in this 
analysis . 

Moreover, COPAZ is the body entrusted by the agreements with preparing 
preliminary legislative drafts related to the peace process. In this 
sphere, it has a crucial role to play in the implementation of the 
recommendations in the present report that call for legal reforms. 

D . International follow-up 

The Commission has carried out its mandate as part of an extraordinary 
process which is a milestone in the history of United Nations 
operations for the maintenance of international peace and security. 

The tragedy in El Salvador absorbed the attention of the international 
community. As a result, the current peace process continues to arouse 
expectations throughout the world. The United Nations is also 
responsible for verifying all the agreements, which includes ensuring 
that the recommendations of the Commission on the Truth, which the 
Parties undertook to carry out, are implemented. 

The Commission requests the Independent Expert for El Salvador of the 
United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in the report he is to 
submit to the Commission on Human Rights pursuant to his mandate and 
to the extent allowed by that mandate, to make corresponding 
evaluation of the implementation of the recommendations of the 
Commission on the Truth. 


VI. EPILOGUE: THE SEEKERS AFTER PEACE 

Yes indeed, as the Mayan poem goes, all these things happened among us. 

Each one of us projected his own version of the truth as the universal truth. 
Each group or party saw its banner as the only banner in the Manicheism that 
held sway. And every individual or party loyalty was held to be the only real 
allegiance. In those days, all Salvadorians were so unfair in one way or 
another to their fellow countrymen that the heroism of some became the immediate 
misfortune of others. Moreover, the nation was a pawn in the East-West 
conflict; Salvadorians were buffeted by a turbulent sea of waning ideologies and 
global contradictions. Although the victims hailed from many countries, they 
were mainly Salvadorians. One way or another, blame for this can be attributed 


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to a complex web of events in El Salvador' s history and to unique circumstances 
in world history, so that it would be unfair to assign it to a particular 
individual, organization or party. 

When there came pause for thought, each Salvadorian once again responded to 
the only true allegiance - allegiance to the nation. The Salvadorian nation 
looked deep into its soul and saw, as the preamble to the Constitution says, its 
destiny written in the stars. Many brilliant war-time figures have also shone 
in peacetime: the old contradictions and intransigence contrast sharply with 

the current rapprochements and agreements. Former combatants of all parties 
have embraced one another in a sign of reconciliation. There are neither 
victors nor vanquished, since every one gains from the agreements. As in 
classical painting, the loftier sentiments that make law the agreed bulwark 
against unbridled freedom and mindless anarchy triumph over the pain of battle. 

The report of the Commission on the Truth records the acts of violence that 
occurred repeatedly during the 12 years of war in order to prevent such events 
from ever happening again. 

Pursuant to its mandate under the peace agreements, the Commission is 
presenting this background to the country' s painful recent history as a lesson 
for reconciliation: this is the motivation behind the recommendations of this 

report, submitted on 15 March 1993 to the President of El Salvador, 

Mr. Alfredo Cristiani; to former Commanders of the Frente Farabundo Marti para 

la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) , Schafik Handal, Salvador Samayoa and 

Ana Gualupe Martinez; and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, 

Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali. 

The collective spirit underlying the agreements also runs through this 
report, which is the contribution of the Commission on the Truth to restoring 
the institutional fabric of El Salvador. However, it is for Salvadorians 
themselves to take the fundamental decisions that will lead to a full-fledged 
peace. Salvadorian society must decide about accountability for past actions 
and new statutes of limitations. It has the power to grant pardons. It is also 
this society, steeped in the painful lessons of war, that will have to settle 
the dispute about new appointments to high office. 

The members of the Commission on the Truth hope - as the only compensation 
for the pact made with their own consciences - that this report will help the 
seekers after peace, the protagonists of the new history of El Salvador, to find 
answers . 


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VII. INSTRUMENTS ESTABLISHING THE COMMISSION'S MANDATE 

The following are the passages pertaining to the Commission on the Truth 
contained in the peace agreements between the Government of El Salvador and the 
Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) : 

Mexico Agreements, 27 April 1991 

[. . .] 

IV. COMMISSION ON THE TRUTH 

Agreement has been reached to establish a Commission on the Truth, which 
shall be composed of three individuals appointed by the Secretary-General of the 
United Nations after consultation with the Parties. The Commission shall elect 
its Chairman. The Commission shall be entrusted with the task of investigating 
serious acts of violence that have occurred since 1980 and whose impact on 
society urgently requires that the public should know the truth. The Commission 
shall take into account: 

(a) The exceptional importance that may be attached to the acts to be 
investigated, their characteristics and impact, and the social unrest to which 
they gave rise; and 

(b) The need to create confidence in the positive changes which the peace 
process is promoting and to assist the transition to national reconciliation. 

The characteristics, functions and powers of the Commission on the Truth 
and other related issues are set forth in the corresponding annex. 

[. . . ] 


Annex to the Mexico Agreements, 27 April 1991 
COMMISSION ON THE TRUTH 

The Government of El Salvador and the Frente Farabundo Marti para la 
Liberacion Nacional (hereinafter referred to as "the Parties"), 

Reaffirming their intention to contribute to the reconciliation of 
Salvadorian society; 

Recognizing the need to clear up without delay those exceptionally 
important acts of violence whose characteristics and impact, and the social 
unrest to which they gave rise, urgently require that the complete truth be made 
known and that the resolve and means to establish the truth be strengthened; 

Considering that, although the need to put an end to impunity was raised in 
the discussion on the item on the armed forces of the Agenda for the 
negotiations adopted at Caracas on 21 May 1990, the means of investigation which 


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the Parties themselves have been prepared to set up are addressing situations 
whose complexity warrants independent treatment; 

Agreeing on the advisability of fulfilling that task through a procedure 
which is both reliable and expeditious and may yield results in the short term, 
without prejudice to the obligations incumbent on the Salvadorian courts to 
solve such cases and impose the appropriate penalties on the culprits; 

Have arrived at the following political agreement : 

1. There is hereby established a Commission on the Truth (hereinafter 
referred to as "the Commission") . The Commission shall be composed of three 
individuals appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations after 
consultation with the Parties. The Commission shall elect its Chairman. 

FUNCTIONS 

2. The Commission shall have the task of investigating serious acts of 
violence that have occurred since 1980 and whose impact on society urgently 
demands that the public should know the truth. The Commission shall take into 
account : 

(a) The exceptional importance that may be attached to the acts to be 
investigated, their characteristics and impact, and the social unrest to which 
they gave rise; and 

(b) The need to create confidence in the positive changes which the peace 
process is promoting and to assist the transition to national reconciliation. 

3. The mandate of the Commission shall include recommending the legal, 
political or administrative measures which can be inferred from the results of 
the investigation. Such recommendations may include measures to prevent the 
repetition of such acts, and initiatives to promote national reconciliation. 

4. The Commission shall endeavour to adopt its decisions unanimously. 
However, if this is not possible, a vote by the majority of its members shall 
suffice . 

5. The Commission shall not function in the manner of a judicial body. 

6. If the Commission believes that any case brought to its attention does 
not meet the criteria set forth in paragraph 2 of this agreement, it may refer 
the case to the Attorney-General of the Republic, should it deem appropriate, 
for handling through the judicial channel. 

POWERS 

7. The Commission shall have broad powers to organize its work and its 
functioning. Its activities shall be conducted on a confidential basis. 

8. For the purposes of the investigation, the Commission shall have the 
power to: 


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(a) Gather, by the means it deems appropriate, any information it 
considers relevant. The Commission shall be completely free to use whatever 
sources of information it deems useful and reliable. It shall receive such 
information within the period of time and in the manner which it determines. 

(b) Interview, freely and in private, any individuals, groups or members 
of organizations or institutions. 

(c) Visit any establishment or place freely without giving prior notice. 

(d) Carry out any other measures or inquiries which it considers useful to 
the performance of its mandate, including requesting reports, records or 
documents from the Parties or any other information from State authorities and 
departments . 

UNDERTAKING BY THE PARTIES 

9. The Parties undertake to extend to the Commission whatever cooperation 
it requests of them in order to gain access to sources of information available 
to them. 

10. The Parties undertake to carry out the Commission's recommendations. 
REPORT 

11. The Commission shall submit a final report, with its conclusions and 
recommendations, within a period of six months after its establishment. 

12. The Commission shall transmit its report to the Parties and to the 

Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall make it public and shall take 

the decisions or initiatives that he deems appropriate. 

13. Once the report has been handed over, the Commission's mandate shall 
be considered terminated and the Commission shall be dissolved. 

14. The provisions of this agreement shall not prevent the normal 

investigation of any situation or case, whether or not the Commission has 

investigated it, nor the application of the relevant legal provisions to any act 

that is contrary to law. 

[. . .] 


El Salvador Peace Agreement signed at Chapultepec on 

16 January 1992 


[. . .] 

3. C. The Commission on the Truth established by the Mexico Agreements of 
26 April 1991 (hereinafter referred to as "the Commission on the Truth"), may 
appoint an observer to the ad hoc Commission. 

[. . .] 


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5. END TO IMPUNITY 

The Parties recognize the need to clarify and put an end to any indication 
of impunity on the part of officers of the armed forces, particularly in cases 
where respect for human rights is jeopardized. To that end, the Parties refer 
this issue to the Commission on the Truth for consideration and resolution. All 
of this shall be without prejudice to the principle, which the Parties also 
recognize, that acts of this nature, regardless of the sector to which their 
perpetrators belong, must be the object of exemplary action by the law courts so 
that the punishment prescribed by law is meted out to those found responsible. 

[. . .] 


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I . The Commissioners 

Belisario Betancur, Chairman; Reinaldo Figueredo Planchart; 

Thomas Buergenthal 

I I . Advisers to the Commissioners 

Douglass Cassel; Guillermo Fernandez de Soto; Luis Herrera Marcano; 

Robert E. Norris 

III. Executive Director 

Patricia Tappata de Valdez 

IV. Consultants and researchers 

Carlos Chipoco; Mabel Colalongo; Jayni Edelstein; Stener Ekern; 

Guillermo Fernandez-Maldonado; Alfredo Forti; Lauren Gilbert; 

Juan Gabriel Gomez; Javier Hernandez; Sergio Hevia; Elena Jenny-Williams; 
Felipe Michelini; Theodore Piccone; Clifford C. Rohde; Carlos Somigliana; 
Ana Maria Tello; Lucia Vasquez 

V. Personal assistants to the Commissioners 

Lourdes Zambrano; Alba Reyes; Abigail Mellin 

VI . Experts 

Clyde Snow, forensic anthropologist; Robert H. Kirschner, forensic 
pathologist; John Fitzpatrick, trauma radiologist; Douglas D. Scott, 
archaeologist and ballistics analyst; 

Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropologists: Patricia Bernardi, forensic 

anthropologist; Mercedes C. Doretti, forensic anthropologist; 

Luis B. Fondebrider, forensic anthropologist; Claudia Bernardi, Ph. D. 

Alberto Binder, lawyer; Alejandro Garro, lawyer; Robert Goldman, lawyer; 
Jose Ugaz, lawyer; Maria del Carmen Bermudez, journalist; 

Gabriel Rodriguez, journalist 

VI I . Codification team 

Coordinator: Jose Ignacio Cano 

Team: Daniel Angrisano; Gabriel Catena; Cristina Lemus; Judith Kallick; 

Nila Perez; Margreet Smit; Miguel Angel Ventura; Ken Ward 

VIII. Administrative personnel 

Lilian Delgado; Guillermo Lizarzaburu; Sharon Singer 


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IX . Permanent security personnel 

Joseph Leal (Chief); Manuel Arcos; Alfredo Figueroa; Leo Powell; 
Kenneth Rosario; Wilfredo Vega 

X . Interns 

William Cartwright; Denise Gilman; Chris Guarnota; Priscilla Hayner; 
Mary Beth Hastings; Jean Leong; Maggie Miqueo 

XI . Offices 

San Salvador, El Salvador; United Nations, New York 


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I. THE COMMISSIONERS 

Belisario Betancur . Colombian, BA in Law and Economics, Bolivarian Pontifical 
University of Medellin (1955) . Married to Rosa Helena Alvarez, three children, 
five grandchildren. University professor, member of the Spanish Language 
Academy and the Colombian Academy of Jurisprudence. Former Senator, Ambassador, 
Minister of Labour. Former President of Colombia (1982-1986) . Honorary 
doctorates from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (1984) and University of 
Colorado, Boulder, Colorado (1988) . Member of the Pontifical Commission for 
Justice and Peace in Rome. Vice-President for Latin America of the Club of Rome 
and President of the Santillana Foundation for Iberoamerica in Santa Fe de 
Bogota . 

Reinaldo Figueredo Planchart . Member of the Venezuelan National Congress. 
Chairman of the Congressional Special Committee on Privatization and the 
Subcommittee on Analysis and Planning of the Standing Committee for Defence. 
Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Venezuela (1989-1991); 
Secretary-General of the Presidency (1989); Special Commissioner for the 
President of the Republic (1984-1985); Director of the Manufactures Division of 
the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) , Geneva 
(1980-1984); President of the Foreign Trade Institute (1974-1979). Has 
participated in many international meetings and conferences sponsored by the 
United Nations, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), 
financial organizations, the Andean Group, the Non-Aligned Movement, the 
Group of 15. Head of delegation on various international missions. Columnist 
on petroleum topics for the periodical El Nacional of Caracas since 1970. Has 
published a variety of articles in specialized journals. Economist by 
profession, graduated cum laude from the Free University of Brussels, Belgium. 

Thomas Buergenthal . Lobingier Professor of International and Comparative Law, 
George Washington University Law School, and Director of the George Washington 
University National Law Center. Served as Judge (1979-1991), Vice-President 
(1983-1985) and President (1985-1987) of the Inter-American Court of Human 
Rights. Currently Vice-President of the Administrative Tribunal of the 
Inter-American Development Bank. Formerly Dean of the Law School, American 
University, Washington, D.C. (1980-1985) and I. T. Cohen Professor of Human 
Rights at Emory University Law School. Former Director of the Human Rights 
Programme of the Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia (1985-1989) . Founded the 
Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1980; 
President (1980-1992); currently Honorary President. Former President of the 
Human Rights Committee, Section of International Law and Practice, American Bar 
Association (early 1980 and 1991-1992) . Former Vice-President of the American 
Society of International Law. Author of more than a dozen books and many 
articles on international law. Graduate of Bethany College, West Virginia; 

JD . , New York University Law School; LLM and SJD in International Legal Studies, 
Harvard Law School. Honorary doctorates from Bethany College and the University 
of Heidelberg, Germany. 


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II. ADVISERS TO THE COMMISSIONERS 


Douglass W. Cassel, Jr . DePaul University: Executive Director of the 

International Human Rights Law Institute, Professor of International Human 
Rights Law, and Director, Jeanne and Joseph Sullivan Programme on Human Rights 
in the Americas. Formerly, Counsel, Judge Advocate General's Corps, United 
States Navy (1973-1976); Staff Counsel (1976-1982) and General Counsel 
(1982-1992), Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, a 
not-for-profit legal centre in Chicago involved in litigation and research on 
civil rights, civil liberties and other legal issues. Travels regularly to 
Central America for matters involving human rights. Official observer (1991) on 
behalf of the American Bar Association at the trial in El Salvador of the 
military personnel accused of murdering the Jesuit priests and two women at the 
Central American University in 1989. Has published articles on international 
human rights law in specialized reviews and other periodicals. BA in Economics, 
Yale University; JD (1972), Harvard Law School, where served as editor of the 
Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review . 


Guillermo Fernandez de Soto . Colombian, age 40, married, three children. BA in 
Law and Economics, Xaverian University of Bogota and Georgetown University, 
Washington, D.C. Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia. Formerly, 
Legal Adviser to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the 
Organization of American States (1979-1985) . Consultant to the United Nations 
Development Programme (1987) . Head, United Nations technical mission for the 
drafting of the Special Plan of Economic Cooperation for Central America (1988) . 
Executive Director of the "Foro Interamericano" Centre for International Studies 
(1988-1990) . Currently Dean of the Faculty of International Studies of the 
Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in Bogota; Secretary-General of Nueva Fuerza 
Democratica in Colombia. Author of various books on international politics. 


Luis Herrera Marcano . Venezuelan. LLD, Central University of Venezuela. 
Ambassador. Former International Policy Director and Legal Counsel, Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs of Venezuela. Professor of International Law, Central 
University of Venezuela. Former Director of the School of Law and Dean of the 
Faculty of Juridical and Political Sciences. Member and former President, 
Inter-American Legal Committee. 

Robert E. Norris . United States national. Lecturer, Stephen F. Austin State 
University, and Managing Attorney, East Texas Legal Services. Ph.D. in Ibero- 
American Studies, University of New Mexico, and JD, University of Texas Law 
School, Austin. Senior Human Rights Specialist, Inter-American Commission on 
Human Rights; contributed to the United Nations Centre for Human Rights study 
The Rights of Indigenous Peoples . Co-author of the textbook Protecting Human 
Rights in the Americas: Selected Problems , and of a series of volumes entitled 

Human Rights: the Inter-American System . Lecturer at the International 

Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg (1979-1990) and at the Inter-American 
Institute of Human Rights (1990-1992) . 


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III. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 

Patricia Tappata de Valdez . Born in Bahia Blanca, Argentina. Researcher and 
consultant on human rights issues in Latin America. BA in Social Work, Faculty 
of Law and Social Sciences, National University of Cordoba. Studies towards an 
MA in Political Science, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) , 
Buenos Aires. Director, Human Rights Department of the Episcopal Commission for 
Social Action of Peru (1977-1987) . Adviser to the Peace Commission of the 
Office of the President of Peru (1985-1986) . Founder and member of the 
Executive Committee of the National Human Rights Federation in Peru (1985-1987) . 
Fellowship from the International Human Rights Programme (1988) . Since 1991, 
coordinator of the "Justice in Argentina" programme of the Citizens' Foundation 
in Buenos Aires. 

IV. CONSULTANTS AND RESEARCHERS 


Carlos Chipoco . Born in Lima, Peru. LLB summa cum laude from the Pontifical 
Catholic University of Peru. LLM, Harvard Law School and MA in International 
Law, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (1990) . Professor, Faculty of Law, 
Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and National University of San Marcos. 
Visiting Professor, School of Law, University of Puerto Rico. Adviser to the 
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights before the Inter-American Court of 
Human Rights. Former Director of the Legal Defence Institute of Peru 
(1983-1988) and fellow of Americas Watch (1988-1989) . Author of En Defensa de 


la Vida. Ensayos sobre Derechos Humanos 


Derecho Internacional Humanitario 


(CEP, Lima) . 


Mabel Colalongo . Argentine national. Procurator and lawyer, graduated from the 
Faculty of Law of the National University of Buenos Aires, 1984. Associate 
Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Buenos Aires and National University of 
Lomas de Zamora. Appointed to the Procurator's Office of the Federal Criminal 
and Correctional Court of Buenos Aires (1985-1987; 1991-1992) . UNDP consultant 
to the commission set up to reform the national criminal prosecution system in 
Argentina. Chief, Judicial Department of the Sub-Secretariat for Human Rights 
(1984-1986) . 


Jayni Edelstein . United States national. BA with distinction. University of 
Wisconsin (1988), and JD, New York Law School (1992) . Worked for three years 
for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, New York. Internships with the 
International Commission of Jurors (Geneva) and the Centro 

de Investigacion y Educacion Popular (Colombia) , and clerkships in the United 
States Court of International Trade, New York, and the United States District 
Court, Eastern District, New York. 


Stener Ekern . Norwegian. BA in Social Anthropology, University of Bergen, 
Norway (1986) . Project Coordinator, FAFO International. Project Officer, 
programme for assistance to indigenous peoples of the Central American area, 
Norwegian Agency for International Development (NORAD), NGO Division. Formerly, 
Project Officer for the Central American area, CARITAS Norway. 

Guillermo Arturo Fernandez-Maldonado Castro . Born in Lima, Peru. LLB, 
Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and LLD cum laude . University of Alcala 
de Henares, Spain. MA in Public Administration, National Institute of Public 


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Administration, Spain; Visiting Professor, 1987. External Studies Diploma in 
Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Academy of International Law, The Hague. 
Graduate in international relations from the International Studies Society of 
Madrid. Since 1987, Professor in the Faculty of Law and on the MA programmes in 
constitutional law and international law. Pontifical Catholic University of 
Peru. Legal adviser to the Senate of Peru (1982-1992) . Since 1988, chief 
adviser to the Senate Special Committee on the Causes of Violence and Peaceful 
Alternatives in Peru; chief adviser to the Chairman of the United Nations 
Commission on Human Rights (1991) . 

Alfredo Waldo Forti . Argentine national. BA cum laude in International 
Relations, American University, Washington, D.C. Senior Fellow of the Center 
for International Policy, Washington, D.C. Former Director of the Committee on 
United States-Latin American Relations, The International Center, 

Washington, D.C. (1986-1992) . Consultant to agencies of the Argentine 
Government (1989-1991) and consultant on electoral issues for the United States 
Agency for International Development (USAID), Georgetown University. Former 
coordinator of the Latin American Human Rights Secretariat, Caracas, Venezuela 
(1978-1980) . 

Lauren Gilbert . United States national. BA magna cum laude in Government, 
Harvard University (1983) . JD cum laude . University of Michigan (1988) . 
Associate, Arnold & Porter law firm, Washington, D.C. (1988-1991) . Pro Bono 
Service Award from the International Human Rights Law Group for monitoring the 
elections in Chile (1990) . Adviser to the Venezuelan Government on its 
accession to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and on the 
drafting of an anti-dumping law. Received a Fulbright award to study the 
Americas Initiative in Costa Rica and taught a course in foreign trade at the 
School of International Relations of the National University in Heredia (1991) . 
Worked with the Deputy Director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights 
on the peace process in El Salvador (1992) . 

Juan Gabriel Gomez Albarello . Born in Ibague, Colombia, in 1968. LLB from the 
External Studies University of Colombia (1989) . Adviser to 
Francisco Rojas Birry, the indigenous delegate to the National Constituent 
Assembly, and researcher for the Committee to Overcome Violence. Won second 
prize in a Latin American essay contest on legal criticism and alternative uses 
of the law, organized by the Inter-American Legal Services Association (ILSA) in 
1989, and first prize in the essay contest on the new Colombian Constitution 
organized by the Department of Public Law of the External Studies University of 
Colombia in 1992. 

Javier Hernandez Valencia . Born in Lima, Peru. LLB from the Pontifical 
Catholic University of Peru. Adviser to the Senate of Peru (1985-1990) and 
member of the Senate Legislative Research Centre (1992) . Team member of the 
congressional commission of inquiry into the 1986 prison massacres in Lima 
(1987) . Adviser to the Ministry of Education (1990), and to the National 
Planning Institute on Project SITOD concerning government decision-making 
(1991) . Researcher for the IDS Institute for Popular Politics in Lima since 
1988: has developed institutional reform projects to promote peace in Peru. 

Has published various articles on the subject in Peru. 


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Sergio Hevia Larenas . Born in Santiago, Chile. BA Juridical and Social 
Sciences, Faculty of Law, University of Chile. Specialized studies in 
criminology and forensic medicine. Legal adviser and staff member of the 
Vicaria de la Solidaridad of the Archdiocese of Santiago. 

Elena Jenny-Williams . Swiss national born in Panama. MA, Harvard University 
(1967), LLB, University of Geneva (1984) . Legal consultant on private law, 
international law, criminal law and tax law. Has participated in missions in 
Europe and Latin America. 

Felipe Raul Michelini Delle Piane . Born in Montevideo, Uruguay. Doctorate in 
Law and Social Sciences, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, University of the 
Republic, Montevideo (1987) . LLM, Columbia University School of Law, New York 
(1992) . Former legal adviser to victims in Uruguay and before the 
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Professor of Human Rights, Faculty 
of Law, University of the Republic, Montevideo (1991) . Professor of Legal 
Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, University of the Republic, Montevideo 
(1988) . Member of the Centre for Labour and Social Research and Advisory 
Services (CEALS) , Uruguay. 

Theodore J. Piccone . United States national. BA magna cum laude in History, 
University of Pennsylvania, 1984. JD, Columbia University School of Law (1990); 
former Editor-in-Chief, Columbia Human Rights Law Review . International Fellow, 
Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Former Director, Youth Policy Institute. 
Congressional assistance in United States Congress and rapporteur in the Council 
on Foreign Relations. Law clerk for Federal Judge Stanley S. Brotman (United 
States District Court of New Jersey and District Court of the Virgin Islands) . 
Summer associate, Patton, Boggs & Blow, Cahill, Gordon & Reindel and Dewey, 
Ballantine (Washington, D.C.). Currently, Litigation Associate, Schnader, 
Harrison, Segal & Lewis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Clifford C. Rohde . United States national. Graduated with special distinction 
from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, majoring in Latin American History. 
Completed one year of study at the National Law Center, George Washington 
University, Washington, D.C. Since 1988, researcher for Americas Watch on 
Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia. 

Carlos Somigliana . Argentine national. Forensic anthropologist, member of the 
Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropologists since 1987, and as such served as an 
expert in Guatemala. Co-author of various articles on forensic anthropology. 
Worked in the Procurator' s Office of the Federal Criminal Court of the Argentine 
Republic (1985-1987) . Studied law and anthropology at the University of 
Buenos Aires. 

Ana Maria Tello . Born in Montevideo, Uruguay. Researcher and lecturer in 
History and Social Sciences. Human rights documents librarian. Worked with the 
Centre for Latin American Studies (CEL) of the University of the Republic, 
Montevideo (1986) . Graduate of the Artigas Teachers Institute, Montevideo, 

1986. Guidance counsellor and lecturer. Institutes for Advanced Technical 
Training, Labour University of Uruguay, Montevideo (1981) . 


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Lucia Carmen Vasguez Rodriguez . Born in Lima, Peru. BA in Social Work from the 
Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. Has worked with the Episcopal 
Commission for Social Action in Peru since 1983: Director of the Human Rights 

Department (1987-1989) and the Solidarity and Development Department 
(1990-1991) . Member of the Executive Committee of the Office of the National 
Human Rights Federation (1987-1989) . Adviser to the Archdiocese of Lima on its 
programmes of pastoral work in prisons. 

V. PERSONAL ASSISTANTS TO THE COMMISSIONERS 

Lourdes Margarita Cobo de Zambrano . Born in Caracas, Venezuela. MA in 
Political Science, Central University of Venezuela (1979) . MA in Political 
Science, Simon Bolivar University (1981) . Has worked in Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs of Venezuela. Member of the Board and researcher, Venezuelan Institute 
of International Relations (IVRI) . Former consultant. Tinker Foundation, 
Commission for State Reform in Venezuela (COPRE) . Edited and contributed to 
Analisis , a specialized review of the Pedro Gual Diplomatic Academy. Author of 
"La Politica de Fronteras hacia Colombia: Toma de Decisiones, Disgregacion 

y Consenso; El Estudio de las Relaciones Internacionales en Venezuela; 
Prioridades de la Politica Exterior de Venezuela para el Ano 2000. 

Alba Reyes . Colombian, age 35, economist, married, two children. Assistance in 
the Office of the President of Colombia (1982-1986) . Personal assistant to 
former President Betancur (1986-1993). 

Abigail Mellin . United States national. BA magna cum laude . Southwestern 
University; JD candidate, George Washington University National Law Center 
(May 1993) . Studied at the Institute for Comparative Politics and Economic 
Systems, Goldsmith's College, University of London. Former legislative 
assistance to Senator Tejeda, State Assembly, Texas, and programme coordinator 
for The Fund for American Studies, Washington, D.C. Has also worked with the 
House Ways and Means Committee and the Congressional Sunbelt Caucus. 


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Notes 


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1/ Published by the United Nations under the title El Salvador 
Agreements: The Path to Peace (DPI/1208, May 1992) . 

2/ El Salvador Agreements , supra , p. 30. 

3/ El Salvador Peace Agreement (signed at Chapultepec) , supra , p. 55. 

4_/ It is important to mention that, in the San Jose Agreement on Human 

Rights, it was the understanding of the Parties to the peace agreements that 
"human rights" shall mean "those rights recognized by the Salvadorian legal 
system, including treaties to which El Salvador is a party, and by the 
declarations and principles on human rights and humanitarian law adopted by the 
United Nations and the Organization of American States". 

5/ See, for example, FMLN, La situacion de los derechos humanos a la Luz 
de los Convenios de Ginebra , p. 5 (1983) . 

6/ Article 3 (common to the four Conventions) : conflicts not of an 

international character 


In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring 
in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the 
conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: 

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of 
armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de 
combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in 
all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction 
founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or 
any other similar criteria. 

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited 
at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above- 
mentioned persons: 

(a.) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, 
mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; 

(b) taking of hostages; 

(cj outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and 
degrading treatment; 

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions 

without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted 
court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized 
as indispensable by civilized peoples. 

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for . . . 

7/ See, for example, article 4 of Protocol II. 


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8/ United Nations, Mexico Agreements, 27 April 1991, Commission on the 
Truth, "Functions" section, para. 2 (a) . Document A/4 6/553-S/23130 , p. 16. 

_9/ The Asociacion Nacional de Educadores Salvadorenos (ANDES) reported 
that in the period January-June 1981, 136 schoolteachers were executed. United 
Nations, Report of the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, 
1981 . 


10 / The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, quoting the United 
States Embassy, reported that the average number of political murders in 
El Salvador was approximately 300 a month in 1982. According to the Catholic 
Legal Aid Office, the figure was 500 a month. OAS-IACHR, Annual Report , 
1981-1982, p. 121. 

The Archbishop Oscar Romero Christian Legal Aid Office reported the 
following numbers of civilian victims: 

1980: 11,903 

1981: 16,266 

1982: 5,962 

Source : Central American Human Rights Institute (IDHUCA), Los Derechos 

Humanos en El Salvador durante 1985 , vol. II, Jose Simeon Canas Central American 
University, San Salvador, 12 April 1986, p. 39. 

11 / In September 1980, the house containing the office of the Human Rights 
Commission of El Salvador was blown up. Damage was considerable and the bodies 
of three young people, showing signs of having been brutally tortured, were 
found at the front door of the office. OAS-IACHR, Annual Report , p. 124. 

Attacks against the non-governmental Human Rights Commission were 
systematic during this period: 

On 3 October 1980, Maria Magdalena Henriquez, press secretary of the 
Commission, was abducted by uniformed police. Her body was found later. On 
25 October, Ramon Valladares, the Commission's administrator, was murdered. On 
4 December 1981, security forces abducted the Commission's director, 

Carlos Eduardo Vides, who then disappeared. In August 1982, the Treasury Police 
abducted America Perdomo, Director of Public Relations, who also disappeared. 

On 16 March 1983, Marianela Garcia Villas, the Commission's President, was 
killed when a military patrol ambushed a group of displaced persons. 

Americas Watch, El Salvador's Decade of Terror. Human Rights since the 
Assassination of Archbishop Romero , Yale University Press, 1991, pp . 44-45, 
144-148 . 


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12 / According to Christian Legal Aid, 16,266 people, 7,916 of them 
peasants, were killed between January and December 1981. 

Source : Archbishop Oscar Romero Christian Legal Aid Office. See Central 

American Human Rights Institute (IDHUCA), Los Derechos Humanos en El Salvador 
durante 1985 , San Salvador, April 1986, p. 41. 

13 / On 11 November 1981, the non-governmental Human Rights Commission of 
El Salvador reported that in recent months the bodies of over 400 people had 
been dumped at the place known as El Playon. 

14 / The General Secretary of MNR, Guillermo Manuel Ungo, the Rector of the 
Central American University, Roman Mayorga Quiroz, and businessman 
Mario Antonio Andino became part of the Junta. Colonels Jose Guillermo Garcia 
and Nicolas Carranza were appointed Minister and Deputy Minister of Defence 
respectively. Other members of the cabinet included Salvador Samayoa 
(Education) , Enrique Alvarez Cordoba (Agriculture) , Colonel 
Rene Francisco Guerra y Guerra (Under-Secretary of the Interior) , 

Hector Dada Hirezi and Hector Oqueli Colindres (Foreign Affairs) . 

15 / The Organizacion Democratica Nacionalista (ORDEN) was a civil defence 
body set up by General Medrano in the 1960s to keep an eye on the peasant 
population. It became one of the precursors of the death squads. 

16 / The Agenda Nacional de Servicios Especiales de El Salvador (ANSESAL) 
was the State intelligence agency set up by General Medrano. Its last director 
was Colonel Santibanez. National Security Archives, El Salvador: The Making of 

US Policy, 1977-1984 , Chadwick-Healey , Inc., Alexandria, VA, p. 73. 

17 / The Bloque Popular Revolucionario was the largest coalition of 
organizations in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was established in 1975 and 
the sectors represented in it included peasants (the Federacion Cristiana de 
Campesinos Salvadorenos (FECCAS) and the Union de Trabajadores del Campo (UTC) ) ; 
teachers (the Asociacion Nacional de Educadores de El Salvador (ANDES); 
shanty-town residents (the Union de Pobladores de Tugurios (UPT) ; and students 
(the Movimiento Estudiantil Revolucionario de Secundaria (MERS) ) . 

The Ligas Populares 28 de Febrero (LP-28) was a smaller, urban-based 
organization controlled by students. It took its name from the date - 
28 February 1977 - when dozens of demonstrators were killed in protests 
denouncing electoral fraud in the elections in which General 
Carlos Humberto Romero became President. 

The Frente Popular de Accion Unificada (FAPU) , founded in 1974, was an 
organization composed of trade unions, student organizations, peasants and 
schoolteachers . 

The Union Democratica Nacionalista (UDN) , founded in 1969, was the legal 
mouthpiece of the banned Salvadorian Communist Party. 


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18 / By agreement between the Revolutionary Government Junta and the 
Christian Democratic Party (PDC) , the members who resigned were replaced on 
10 January by PDC members Hector Dada Hizeri and Jose Antonio Morales Elrich and 
independent Jose Ramon Avalos Navarrete. 

19 / The Agrarian Reform Act decreed the expropriation of landholdings in 
excess of 1,250 acres. This affected some 372 landowners and a total of 
625,000 acres of land. Approximately 85 per cent of the rural population were 
to benefit. To forestall a reaction by the landowners concerned, the Junta 
issued Decree No. 155 imposing a state of siege for 30 days. 

National Security Archives, El Salvador: The Making of US Policy , 

1 977-1 984 , Janet Di Vicenzo, project editor, Chadwick-Healey , Inc., Alexandria, 
VA, 1984, p. 33. 

20 / United States Embassy in El Salvador, cable 00837, 6 February 1980. 

21 / In his last Sunday sermon, on 23 March, Monsignor Romero had said: 

"In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise up to 
Heaven more urgently with each day that passes, I beseech you, I beg you, I 
order you to stop the repression." 

22 / United States Embassy in San Salvador, cable 02296, 31 March 1980. 

The Washington Post , 31 March 1980. Op. cit . , National Security Archives, 

El Salvador: The Making of US Policy, 1977-1984 , p. 34. 

23 / National Guard Major and Director of ANSESAL until the 15 October 
coup, when he was forced to resign. 

24 / On 12 May, Majano lost his influence when Colonel 
Jaime Abdul Gutierrez, of the conservative wing, was appointed President of the 
Revolutionary Government Junta by the armed forces and, as such, became their 
Commander-in-Chief . 

That same day, a communique from a group calling itself "death squad" was 
read out over the telephone to the press, demanding the release of 
Major D'Aubuisson and the others arrested at Santa Tecla and threatening to blow 
up any newspapers that did not publish the message. La Prensa Grafica , 

12 May 1980, p. 25. 

25 / D'Aubuisson and the other detainees were never brought before the 
courts, despite the seriousness of the accusations about the death squads and 
the murder of Monsignor Romero. 

26 / On 22 May, the Junta issued Decrees Nos. 264 and 265 amending the Code 
of Criminal Procedure. The first of these expanded the definition of terrorist 
activities and prohibited the occupation of public buildings, workplaces and 
religious establishments. The second decree prohibited bail for persons accused 
of or sentenced for political offences. 

On 24 June, Decree No. 296 prohibited officials and employees of State 
bodies from taking part in strikes, and ordered immediate dismissal for anyone 
who promoted or organized work stoppages. 


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On 22 August, Decree No. 366 gave the executive branch the power to 
withdraw legal recognition from any State union for taking part in strikes or 
causing the interruption of essential public services. 

On 3 December, the Junta issued Decree No. 507 giving military courts 
jurisdiction over political offences against the State. 

27 / On 26 June 1980, after a national strike, the army and the National 
Guard attacked the National University, killing between 22 and 40 students and 
destroying facilities. The Rector of the University, Felix Antonio Ulloa, was 
assassinated on 29 October. 

28 / Op. cit . , National Security Archives, The Making of US Policy , 
1977-1984 , p. 35. 

29 / After a brief period in detention, Majano went into exile in 
March 1981 . 

30 / The direct complaints received by the Commission on the Truth and 
referred to in this chronology concerned both parties to the conflict. Most 
complaints concerned violations committed by members of the armed forces or 
paramilitary organizations. Only those complaints which, in the Commission's 
view, were sufficiently substantiated were processed (see annex 5) . 

31 / The victims were Jose Rodolfo Viera, President of ISTA, and two AIFLD 
agricultural advisers, Mark David Pearlman and Michael Hammer. 

32 / On 27 December, during one of the first large-scale attacks launched 
by FMLN on military garrisons. Commander Ferman Cienfuegos of FARN announced 
that a final offensive would be launched before Reagan's inauguration on 
20 January 1981. Op. cit.. National Security Archives, El Salvador: The Making 

of US Policy , p. 38. 

33 / On 28 August 1981, a communique issued by the Governments of Mexico 
and France referred to FDR-FMLN as a representative political force for seeking 
a political solution to the conflict. 

34 / On 14 January, in one of his last foreign policy measures. 

President Carter announced the sending of US$ 5 million in military aid to 
El Salvador. Among the reasons cited was evidence of Nicaraguan aid to the 
Salvadorian rebels. Op. cit.. National Security Archives, El Salvador: The 

Making of US Policy , p. 34. 

Not long after the Government of Ronald Reagan took office, the State 
Department sent a cable to the Embassy in San Salvador instructing it to inform 
the Duarte Government that the United States was planning to launch a diplomatic 
offensive the following week in Europe and Latin America to demonstrate Cuban 
and Nicaraguan involvement with the insurgents in El Salvador. Department of 
State (draft), 2/4/1981. 

35 / Op. cit., Americas Watch, pp . 48-49 and 146. 


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Op. cit. National Security 


36/ 

Archives , 


The Miami Herald , 23 August 1981. 
p . 42 . 


37 / Christian Legal Aid, San Salvador, 1984 report. 

38 / The breakdown of the Assembly by party was as follows: 

Christian Democratic Party: 24 members 

Alianza Republicana Nacionalista : 19 members 

Partido de Conciliacion Nacional : 14 members 

Accion Democratica: 2 members 

Partido Popular Salvadoreno: 1 member 

39 / Decree No. 3 of the Constituent Assembly. The Decree also repealed 
Decree No. 114, containing the basic legal provisions governing the agrarian 
reform. 


40 / Phase III of the agrarian reform was launched by Decree No. 207 of the 
Revolutionary Government Junta and enabled peasants who were leasing small plots 
of land to buy them and gain title to them with financial assistance from the 
Government. Op. cit. National Security Archives, p. 79. 

41 / The New York Times , 7 February 1982. 

Newly elected President Reagan, citing the attack on the Ilopango Base, 
also signed an Executive Order on 1 February authorizing $55 million in 
emergency military aid for El Salvador (see The Washington Post , 

2 February 1982) . 

42 / According to statistics, acts of sabotage focused on means of 
transport (46 per cent), the electricity distribution and supply system 
(23.7 per cent) and roads and railways (5.7 per cent) . During the first quarter 
of 1982, the following bridges were destroyed or damaged: 4 in Santa Ana, 1 in 

San Salvador, 3 in Usulutan, 2 in San Miguel and 1 in Morazan. Centro 
Universitario de Documentacion e Informacion, Proceso , Ano 3, No. 98, 
February-April 1982. 

43 / Op cit.. United Nations, Report of the Special Representative of the 
Commission on Human Rights, 1982, p. 33. Armed Forces of El Salvador, National 
Police, Datos estadisticos sobre atentados dinamiteros, incendiarios y sabotajes 
diversos realizados por las diversas agrupaciones terroristas con el fin de 
destruir la economia nacional, San Salvador, 22 September 1982. 


44/ 

United 

States 

Embassy 

in San 

Salvador 

(cable 

02165) , 

3 

March 1983 . 

45/ 

United 

States 

Embassy 

in San 

Salvador 

(cable 

00437) , 

3 

December 1982 


The information also indicates that the armed forces troop 
strength was 31,757. 


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46 / Op cit . , Americas Watch, 1991, pp . 146-147. 

47 / The Washington Post , 28 December 1982. 

48 / Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR 
Information , Central America, June 1982, No. 5. 

49 / Op. cit.. United Nations, Report of the Special Representative of the 
Commission on Human Rights, p. 20. 

50 / Central American Human Rights Institute (IDHUCA), Los Derechos Humanos 
en El Salvador durante 1985 , vol. II, Jose Simeon Canas Central American 
University, San Salvador, 12 April 1986, p. 41. 

51 / "Death squads" is a generic term referring to the modus operandi of 
such groups. They were used as instruments of terror and introduced the 
systematic practice of massive human rights violations. 

52 / Op. cit., OAS-IACHR, Annual Report , 1981-1982, pp . 115-116. 

53 / United Nations, Report of the Special Representative of the Commission 
on Human Rights, 22 November 1982, p. 24. 

54 / Archbishop Oscar Romero Christian Legal Aid Victimas de la Poblacion 
Civil desde 1977 hasta 1985 , February 1986 (rairaeo) . 

55 / Op. cit., Americas Watch, 1991, p. 108. 

56 / Decree 210 of the Constituent Assembly referred to the Amnesty and 
Citizen Rehabilitation Act presented by the President of the Republic; 

533 political prisoners were freed by 24 June. The Act also granted amnesty to 
any rebel who abandoned the armed struggle before 4 July. 

57 / The Constitution contained 247 articles and provided for greater 
control over presidential power. It also reduced the impact of the land reform 
on landowners. According to a report issued in December by United States labour 
advisers, only 57,000 of the 117,000 who were eligible to benefit from the 
reform had exercised their right to purchase up to 17.5 acres of land which they 
were leasing; more than 10 per cent of those who did exercise that right were 
either displaced or murdered. The New York Times , 28 December 1983. 

58 / The Government was represented by the Salvadorian Peace Commission set 
up by the Apaneca Pact. Possible participation of the rebels in presidential 
elections was one of the main issues discussed. The talks failed because 
FDR-FMLN rejected the conditions of the Peace Commission. 

59 / The other bodies were identified as those of 
Santiago Hernandez Jimenez, Secretary-General of FUSS, who disappeared on 
25 September, Jose Antonio Garcia Vazquez and Dr. Dora Munoz Castillo. 

La Prensa Grafica , "El conflicto en El Salvador", second edition, 1983. 

60 / Op. cit., Americas Watch, 1991, p. 148. 


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61 / Op. cit . , Americas Watch, 1991, p. 148. The Miami Herald , 

1 October 1983. 

62 / According to newspaper reports, a group of 20 women and children were 
surrounded in a dwelling and executed. Another 30 people drowned in 
Lake Suchitlan while being shot at by soldiers. Op. cit., Americas Watch, 1991, 
p. 148. The Christian Science Monitor , 21 November 1983. 

63 / Congress had set the ceiling on the number of advisers at 55. 

Starting in June 1983, a contingent of 130 Green Berets stationed in Honduras 
began training a first group of 2,400 Salvadorian soldiers in anti-guerrilla 
tactics . 


64 / Department of State press briefing, 29 November 1983. 

65 / United States Embassy, San Salvador (06349), 18 July 1983. 

66 / The New York Times , 5 and 19 November 1983, quoted in op. cit.. 
National Security Archives, pp . 64-65. 

67 / United States Embassy, San Salvador (11503), 12 December 1983, 

The New York Times , 15 December 1983. 


68 / On 14 December, the High Command ordered all security forces to look 
into the existence of the death squads. On 19 December, Captain 
Eduardo Ernesto Alfonso Avila was arrested on orders of the High Command on 
suspicion of having participated in the murder of the United States advisers in 
the Sheraton case. On 21 December, Colonel Nicolas Carranza, Director of the 
Treasury Police, announced that his forces had captured one member of a squad, 
though no name was given. La Prensa Grafica , "El Conflicto en El Salvador", 
second edition, 1983, pp. 61-62. 


69 / The Los Angeles Times , 27 December 1983. 

70 / Op. cit., the National Security Archives, p. 63. 

71 / Report of the Special Representative, 22 November 1983 (A/38/503) . 

72 / The following day the House of Representatives approved $67.75 million 
in emergency aid to El Salvador. Op. cit., the National Security Archives, 
p. 72 . 

73 / President Duarte offered to grant amnesty to FMLN and to recognize it 
so that it could participate as a political party in the elections, if it agreed 
to lay down its arms. FMLN responded with a counterproposal that would have 
involved its participating in a provisional Government that would call elections 
and would reorganize the armed forces. Op. cit., Americas Watch, 1991, p. 12. 


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74 / On 1 January, the rebels blew up Cuscatlan bridge, the longest in the 
country, connecting the eastern and western regions. On several occasions, the 
northern and eastern areas of the country were left without electricity as a 
result of continuing acts of sabotage. On 21 June, FMLN attacked and occupied 
the Cerron Grande hydroelectric power station, leaving 120 people dead. On 
30 July, following a number of attacks involving dynamite, train service in the 
country was suspended. Towards the end of the year, it was reported that FMLN 
attacks on the economic infrastructure had cost the country 238 million colones. 
Op. cit . , La Prensa Grafica , "El Conflicto en El Salvador", 1984. 

75 / Between 17 and 22 July, 68 civilians were executed by army troops 
during a military operation in Los Llanitos, Cabanas. Between 28 and 30 August 
a further military operation by the Atlacatl Battalion in Las Vueltas, 
Chalatenango, resulted in the massacre of some 50 civilians on the banks of the 
Guaslinga river. Op. cit., Americas Watch, 1991, p. 148. 

76 / According to a cable from the United States Embassy, no murder had 
been attributed to any known death squad since the end of 1983. United States 
Embassy, San Salvador (02547), 8 March 1984. 

77 / Op. cit., the National Security Archives, p. 70. 

78 / Report on the situation of human rights in El Salvador (A/39/636), 

9 November 1984. 

79 / On 7 March, Lt . Col. Ricardo Aristides Cienfuegos, Head of COPREFA, 
was executed. On 23 March, General Jose Alberto Medrano, former Director of the 
National Guard and founder of ORDEN and ANSESAL, was murdered. On 17 May, 

Mr. Jose Rodolfo Araujo Banos, military judge of the Court of First Instance, 
was killed in an attack. Op. cit.. La Prensa Grafica , "El Conflicto en 
El Salvador", p. 81. 

80 / Ines Guadalupe Duarte Duran was abducted, together with her friend. 

Ana Cecilia Villeda. On the 16th, an organization calling itself Frente Pablo 
Castillo claimed responsibility for the abduction. Op. cit.. La Prensa Grafica , 
"El Conflicto en El Salvador", p. 81. 

81 / Op. cit.. Central American Human Rights Institute (IDHUCA), 

Los derechos humanos en El Salvador durante el ano 1985 , fascicle II, pp. 79-81. 

82 / In a letter dated October 1985 to Monsignor Rivera y Damas, the 
population of Suchitoto reported that the following damage had occurred between 
May and October 1985: 39 bombings, 4 landings, 32 machine-gunnings, 28 raids, 

252 captures, 26 dead, 9 wounded, 28 houses destroyed, 41 manzanas 
(approximately 25 hectares) of farmland and considerable quantities of corn 
destroyed. Op. cit., IDHUCA, Los derechos humanos en El Salvador durante el ano 


1985, 

fascicle 

M 
1— 1 

p . 43 . 


83/ Op . 

cit , 

IDHUCA, Los derechos humanos en El Salvador durante el ano 

1985, 

fascicle 

M 

M 

p. 39. 


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84 / This list refers only to cases for which testimony from survivors has 
been received. Op. cit., IDHUCA, Los derechos humanos en El Salvador . . ■ , 
p. 67 . 

85 / Op. cit.. La Prensa Grafica "El Conflicto en El Salvador", p. 76. 

86 / The figures given by the various sources are as follows: Legal 

Protection: 3,306; Legal Aid: 1,714; Human Rights Commission of El Salvador 

(non-governmental) : 1,995; Human Rights Commission of El Salvador 

(governmental) : 1,810; and United States Embassy: 1,855. Op. cit., IDHUCA, 

Los derechos humanos en El Salvador . . . , p. 36. 

87 / Op. cit.. La Prensa Grafica , "El Conflicto en El Salvador", p. 86. 

88 / Op. cit.. La Prensa Grafica , p. 85. 

89 / The document entitled "Procedure for the establishment of a firm and 
lasting peace in Central America", known as the "Esquipulas II Agreement", was 
signed by the Central American Presidents on 7 August 1987 in Guatemala City. 
Among the main points of the Agreement are the objective of concluding a 
cease-fire within 90 days, the establishment of national reconciliation 
commissions, a general amnesty, formation of an International Verification 
Commission and the termination of logistical assistance and arms supplies to all 
armed groups in the region. 

90 / "The humanization of the conflict" refers to the objectives of halting 
such practices as abductions, bombings, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, 
summary executions and the indiscriminate planting of mines, etc. 

91 / In a paper issued on 22 July 1987, Amnesty International expressed 
concern about what appeared to be a campaign of repression against the 
cooperative movement. Over 80 cooperative workers and leaders had disappeared, 
been summarily executed, arbitrarily detained or beaten. 

United Nations, Report of the Special Representative to the Commission on 
Human Rights, 1988, p 3. 

92 / The Act conferred unconditional amnesty on anyone who had been 
involved in political offences or politically motivated ordinary offences 
committed prior to 22 October 1987 in which fewer than 20 persons had 
participated. This option was also applicable to the rebels if they came 
forward, renounced the use of violence and manifested their desire to be 
amnestied within 15 days following the promulgation of the Act. 

The Act would not apply to persons who: (a) participated in the murder of 

Monsignor Romero; (b) engaged in kidnappings for profit; (c) were involved in 
drug trafficking; or (d) participated in the murder of Herbert Anaya. 

Op. cit.. United Nations, Report of the Special Representative to the 
Commission on Human Rights, 1988, p. 19. OAS-ICHR: Report on the situation of 

human rights in El Salvador , 1978, p. 299. Amnesty International: Annual 

Report , 1988, p. 137. 


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93 / The United Nations Special Representative said that the broad scope of 
the Act that had been promulgated might make it even more difficult to overcome 
the climate of impunity that existed in El Salvador. 

94 / "... the Esquipulas II Agreement is not being served by an act that 

pardons the murderers of non-combatants and whose authors are connected with 
FMLN, the armed forces or the death squads". 


95 / 

Op. 

cit . , 

United 

Nations , 

Report 

of 

the 

Special 

Representative 

to 

the 

Commission 

on 

Human 

Rights , 

1988, p. 

. 19. 







96 / 

p . 5 . 

Op. 

cit . , 

United 

Nations , 

Report 

of 

the 

Special 

Representative, 

1988, 

97 / 

Op. 

cit . , 

United 

Nations , 

Report 

of 

the 

Special 

Representative 

to 

the 

Commission 

on 

Human 

Rights , 

1988, p. 

. 12 . 







98 / 

Op. 

cit . , 

United 

Nations , 

Report 

of 

the 

Special 

Representative 

to 

the 


Commission on Human Rights, 1987, p. 18. 

99 / Op. cit . , OAS-ICHR, Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on 
Human Rights , 1987-1988, p. 294. This report estimates the loss of life caused 
by the civil war at 60,000 persons. 

100 / On grounds of an error in procedure, the Supreme Court revoked the 
request for the extradition of Captain Alvaro Saravia, who was implicated in the 
murder of Monsignor Romero. 


With regard to the implementation of the Amnesty Act, military judge 
Jorge Alberto Serrano Panameno, just before handing down his decision on the 
case of abductions for purposes of extortion, stated that he opposed granting 
amnesty to the officers implicated in those cases. The following day, 11 May, 
he was shot dead by persons unknown in the doorway of his home. 


101 / Op. cit., Proceso , "Annual Summary", San Salvador, December 1988, 
p. 27 . 

102 / Source : IDHUCA. See in Proceso , "Annual Summary", December 1988, 

p . 30 . 


103 / 
appear to 
Op . cit . , 


Americas Watch pointed out that "... both the Government and FMLN 
have violated the rules of war during the first week of the offensive. 
United Nations, Report of the Special Representative ..." 1990, p. 4. 


104/ 

Op . 

cit . , 

La Prensa 

Grafica, 1989, 

p. 111. 

105/ 

Op . 

cit . , 

OAS-ICHR, 

Annual Report, 

1989-1990, 


106 / Alfredo Cristiani received 53.83 per cent of the 939,078 valid votes 
counted, higher than the 36.03 per cent received by the Christian Democratic 
candidate, Fidel Chavez Mena. 


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107 / On 28 August, army units opened fire on 15 university students, 
killing one and wounding six others. On 16 December, Imelda Gonzalez, a 
lecturer at the National University in Santa Ana, was killed. 

108 / Op. cit . , OAS-ICHR, Report on the human rights situation in 
El Salvador , 1989-1990, p. 145. 

109 / Op. cit.. United Nations, Report of the Special Representative of the 
Commission on Human Rights, 1989, p. 14. 

110 / Edgard Antonio Chacon was President of the Institute of International 
Relations and a columnist known to have extreme anti-communist opinions. On 
30 June, while driving with his wife, he was attacked and died of gunshot 
wounds . 

Both COPREFA and the widow of the deceased blamed FMLN urban commandos for 
the killing, but the charge was denied by FMLN. 

Gabriel Eugenio Payes Interiano was a computer engineer affiliated with 
ARENA. He was shot in the street on 19 July and died on 21 August after a stay 
in hospital. 

111 / The fourth Summit, Esquipulas IV, was held at Tela, Honduras, from 
5 to 7 August 1989 with the five Central American Presidents in attendance. In 
chapter III of the annex, the Governments of the Central American countries 
urged FMLN to hold a constructive dialogue with a view to achieving a just and 
lasting peace. At the same time, the Central American Governments urged the 
Government of El Salvador to arrange, with full guarantees, the integration of 
the members of FMLN in peaceful life. 

Op. cit.. United Nations, Report of the Special Representative to the 
Commission on Human Rights, 1990, p. 4. 

112 / On 31 October 1989, the bombing of FENASTRAS headquarters left 
10 trade unionists dead and about 30 injured. Among the dead was the leader of 
Febe Velazquez. That same day, a bomb injured four people at the headquarters 
of the Comite de Madres de Presos Politicos, Desaparecidos y Asesinados de 
El Salvador (COMADRES) . 

Op. cit., Americas Watch, El Salvador's Decade of Terror , p. 156. 

113 / Op. cit.. La Prensa Grafica , San Salvador, p. 109. 

114 / The Special Representative, in theory, conceded that the perpetrators 
might have ties to members of the armed forces and security forces or be 
tolerated and protected by them. 

United Nations, Report of the Special Representative of the Commission on 
Human Rights, 1990, p. 10. 


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115 / Noteworthy among those acts was the murder of the Chief of the Legal 
Department of the Armed Forces Joint Staff, Major Carlos Figueroa Morales, for 
which the FMLN "Modesto Ramirez" commando unit claimed responsibility. 


Op. cit . , United Nations, Report of the Special Representative of the 
Commission on Human Rights, 1990, p. 13. 


116 / OAS-ICHR, Report on the situation of human rights in El Salvador , 
1990-1991, p. 472. 


117 / Op . cit . , 
Commission on Human 


United Nations, Report of the 
Rights, 1990, p. 11. 


Special Representative of the 


118 / According to the timetable, the process would comprise two phases. 

The first phase would be aimed at reaching a set of political agreements leading 
to a cease-fire and would cover the topics of the armed forces, human rights, 
the judicial and electoral systems, constitutional reforms, economic and issues 
and United Nations verifications reached of the agreements. The second phase 
would be devoted to establishing the necessary conditions and guarantees for 
reintegration of the members of FMLN into the institutional, civil and political 
life of the country. 


Op. cit. United Nations, Report 
Commission on Human Rights, 1991, p. 


of the Special Representative of the 

4 . 


119 / On 19 November, the United Nations Secretary-General, 

Javier Perez de Cuellar, called on FMLN not to jeopardize the negotiating 
process. Mexico, Canada and the Central American Governments also appealed to 
FMLN to suspend its new offensive. Finally, on 17 December, the Presidents of 
the region, at a summit meeting held at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, demanded that 
FMLN declare a cease-fire. 


120 / In his Sunday sermon on 3 February, Monsignor Rivera y Damas accused 
members of the First Infantry Brigade of this mass murder. Op. cit.. La Prensa 
Graf ica , p. 115. Op. cit., Americas Watch, El Salvador's Decade of Terror , 

p . 160. 

121 / The new Legislative Assembly, enlarged from 60 to 84 representatives 
in 1991, comprised 39 deputies from ARENA, 26 from the Christian Democratic 
Party, 9 from the Partido de Reconciliacion Nacional, 8 from Convergencia 
Democratica and 1 each from the Union Democratica Nacionalista and the 
Movimiento Autentico Cristiano. 

122 / On 9 February, the offices and typewriters of Diario Latino were 
destroyed by arson. Five days of truce at the beginning of March were followed 
by an escalation of clashes, attacks on military installations and army 
personnel, etc. resulting in more than 100 people killed in action. 


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123 / Among its most important provisions are the creation of a National 
Civil Police under the direction of civilian authorities independent of the 
armed forces, the establishment of the Office of the National Counsel for the 
Defence of Human Rights, an allocation to the judiciary from the State budget 
amounting to no less than 6 per cent of current income, the creation of a 
Supreme Electoral Tribunal and the redefinition of military jurisdiction as an 
exceptional procedure limited to dealing with purely military offences and 
misdemeanours. In this Mexico round it was also agreed to establish a 
Commission on the Truth to investigate serious acts of violence that had 
occurred since 1980 and whose impact on society demanded that the public should 
know the truth. 

124 / El Salvador Peace Agreement, Chapultepec, 16 January 1992, 5, End to 
Impunity : "The parties recognize the need to clarify and put an end to any 

indication of impunity on the part of officers of the armed forces, particularly 
in cases where respect for human rights is jeopardized. To that end, the 
Parties refer this issue to the Commission on the Truth for consideration and 
resolution" . 

125 / In investigating and resolving the cases referred to below. Commission 
members examined documents in El Salvador and other countries; interviewed 
numerous participants, witnesses, victims and relatives; requested information 
from Government bodies; consulted court dossiers; visited places where incidents 
had occurred; and requested copies of instructions and orders given. 

Requests for precise information on various cases were transmitted to 
Ministers and heads of Government departments, and to what is now the former 
FMLN Command. 

In the case of requests for reports from the Ministry of Defence, the 
Commission received replies to some of its inquiries. However, many of the 
replies were incomplete. 

With regard to requests for reports that were not met and that in some 
cases referred to events prior to 1984, the Ministry of Defence informed the 
Commission that "no records exist since the General Staff was completely 
restructured in that year" (letter No. 10692, 27 November 1992) . The Armed 
Forces Press Committee (COPREFA) told the Commission that it did not have any 
information for the period from January 1980 onwards and currently had available 
only the archive of press releases from January 1988 onwards (letter of 
29 October 1992) . 

The replies to requests made to FMLN were also, in some cases, incomplete, 
the former Command attributed the inability to provide precise information to 
the Commission to the irregular nature of the war and the consequent lack of 
records . 


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126 / A detailed analysis of complaints and lists of victims are to be found 
in the annexes. More than 18,000 complaints from indirect sources were also 
registered, of which over 13,000 were analysed. The figures for direct and 
indirect sources have not been added together. It is estimated that as many as 
3,000 complaints were duplicated in the two sources. In any event the 
Commission believes that the total number of complaints registered is at least 
22 , 000 . 

127 / The Commission also received thousands of other complaints from 
institutions which, once registered, could not be analysed either because they 
did not meet the corresponding minimum requirements, even though institutions 
had been informed of these in good time, or because the incidents reported had 
occurred outside the period covered by the mandate. 

128 / For the investigation of this case, the Commission interviewed many 
witnesses, reviewed the court dossier and other documents and reports on the 
case, and visited the scene of the murders. 

129 / The Commission received testimony from survivors and eyewitnesses. 

The accounts agree and are consistent with one another in describing the 
circumstances and indicating who was responsible. The relevant documentation 
was also reviewed. The court records and the forensic examination confirm that 
the incident occurred. 

Belen Giiijat canton was under the military jurisdiction of the Second 
Military Brigade which, in 1980, was under the command of Colonel 
Servio Tulio Figueroa. The Commission issued a summons to that officer through 
the Ministry of Defence. The only response it received - belated at that - was 
that he had retired. Information was also requested from the Minister of 
Defence concerning military operations carried out at the time in the district 
where the incident occurred; that request went unanswered. Despite repeated 
requests to the Minister of Defence for the names of those in charge of the 
security forces in Santa Ana and for information on military operations in 
Metapan in May 1980, no answer was received. 

Another request to the present Commander of the Second Infantry Brigade 
went unheeded. A visit to Brigade headquarters to consult the records proved 
fruitless. Generally speaking, the competent military authorities did not 
cooperate in the investigation of this case. 

130 / According to witnesses, he died a few years after the incident. 

131 / The report on the medical examination of the bodies states 
specifically that a number of the bodies had what are known as powder burns. 

The forensic interpretation of this type of wound refers to the carbon ring that 
impregnates the skin when a person is shot at close range (under 
30 centimetres) . This carbon ring is caused by the deflagration of the powder 
when a shot is fired, leaving an indelible mark on the deceased's skin; in other 
words, the shot "burns the skin". 


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132 / When a person is shot, it is usually quite simple to determine where 
the bullet entered the body and where it exited, since the dimensions and 
characteristics of the two holes are quite different. Accordingly, the only 
logical interpretation of the statement that the forensic doctor was unable to 
make this determination is that the deceased were shot at such close range and 
with weapons of such large calibre that the bodies were literally destroyed. 

133 / Enrique Alvarez Cordoba, former Minister of Agriculture and Livestock 
and President of the Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FDR) . There were two 
bullet holes in his body. El Diario de Hoy , 29 November 1980. 

134 / Juan Chacon, age 28, General Secretary of the Bloque Popular 
Revolucionario (BPR) . There were three bullet holes in his body, one in the 
ear, another in the forehead and one in the thorax, and signs of strangulation. 
F. 7, court dossier No. 600, Fourth Criminal Court of San Salvador. 

135 / Enrique Escobar Barrera, age 35, a member of the Movimiento Nacional 
Revolucionario (MNR) . There were two bullet holes in his temple and signs of 
strangulation. F. 5, court dossier, quotation 2. 

136 / Manuel de Jesus Franco Ramirez, age 35, a graduate in international 
relations and a member of the Partido Union Democratica Nacionalista (UDN) . 

There were four bullet wounds in his thorax and signs of strangulation. F. 6, 
court dossier, quotation 2. 

137 / Humberto Mendoza, age 30, a member of the Movimiento de Liberacion 
Popular (MLP) . There were two bullet wounds in his body, one in the temple and 
the other in the thorax, and signs of strangulation. F. 4 court dossier, 
quotation 2 . 

138 / Doroteo Hernandez, journalist and trade union leader of the Union de 
Pobladores de Tugurios (UPT) . At the time, he was not identified as a leader of 
FDR; however, the UCA Human Rights Institute/Christian Legal Aid document sent 
to the Commission on the Truth states that he was a leader of that organization. 

139 / The Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FDR) came into being on 
18 April 1980 as a result of a political agreement between the Frente 
Democratico (FD) and the Coordinadora Revolucionaria de Masas (CRM) . It was 
formally established on 18 April 1980 by various political, popular and mass 
organizations. A number of its leaders had held prominent government posts in 
the first Revolutionary Junta which had overthrown General Romero on 
15 October 1979. At the time, the leadership of FDR consisted of the five 
victims, Leoncio Pichinte and Juan Jose Martel. 

140 / The National University of El Salvador was militarized on 
26 June 1980, along with the Western University Centre and the Eastern 
University Centre, Revista ECA , No. 389, March 1981, p. 240. Other human rights 
organizations were also persecuted. 

141 / "G3" rifles were the regulation weapon of the security forces at the 
time and were used by the armed forces of El Salvador in the war against 
Honduras in 1969. 


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142 / The JRG communique speaks of 13, a UPI cable mentions 200, Prensa 
Graf ica , 28 November 1980. 

143 / The dossier notes that the justice of the peace made a visual 
inspection, that the bodies were identified and that two death certificates were 
issued. There was no police report of any kind, and nothing at all was done by 
the judicial authorities; the case was finally closed because no proceedings had 
been carried out during a given period of time. This case clearly demonstrates 
the failure of the judiciary to function. 

144 / Major Roberto D'Aubuisson stated publicly in a communique "Right now, 
based on the information available to us, we attribute responsibility to DRU, 
acting on direct orders from Colonel Majano ...". 

145 / Communiques of the Brigada Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, the 
Revolutionary Government Junta, the armed forces. Major Roberto D'Aubuisson, 

FDR, FMLN, Revista ECA No. 386, December 1980. 

146 / Another significant point is that neither President Duarte nor other 
important Christian Democratic leaders were in the country, nor was 
Colonel Majano. 

147 / Letter dated 9 December 1992 from the Commission on the Truth to the 
Chief of the National Police. 

148 / The funeral itself turned into another act of violence when an 
explosive device blew up. 

149 / The Commission on the Truth interviewed eyewitnesses, diplomats, 
senior commanders of the National Guard and the armed forces, members of the 
Maryknoll Order, relatives of the victims, lawyers for the defendants and the 
churchwomen' s relatives, and a member of the court assigned to the case. In 
addition, the court dossier was reviewed and governmental and non-governmental 
reports were analysed. Colonel Zepeda Velasco was invited, unsuccessfully, to 
testify on several occasions. 

150 / Rogers-Bowdler report, p. 10. 

151 / Ibid., pp. 13-14. 

152 / See the statement by Major Oscar Armando Carranza, who said that 
Colonel Eugenio Vides Casanova had ordered an investigation into the deaths of 
the churchwomen. 

153 / Harold R. Tyler, Jr., The Churchwomen Murders: A Report to the 

Secretary of State , 2 December 1983 (known as the Tyler Report), p. 22. 

154 / Ibid., pp. 29-30. 

155 / Ibid., p. 24. See also the judicial statement by Lizandro Zepeda, 
vol. 2, f. 266, 23 June 1982, where he reports that he interviewed one person 
per day and that no conclusions were reached, although several people were 
interviewed . 


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156 / Judge Tyler concluded that Major Zepeda had probably informed 
Colonel Vides Casanova. Tyler Report, p. 26. 

157 / Ibid., pp . 31-32. 

158 / Ff. 102, 147-57. 


159 / See President Duarte's speech, televised on 10 February 1982. 

160 / Statement by Dagoberto Martinez, f. 132, vol. 3, 30 July 1983. 

161 / See vol. 5 of the court dossier, f. 26, "Decision of the jury", 

24 May 1983. See also ff. 26 and 65, 24 May and 20 June 1984. 

162 / The New York Times , 25 May 1984, pp . 1 and 6. 

163 / On 16 December 1980, United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick said: 
"I don't think the government (of El Salvador) was responsible. The nuns were 
not just nuns; the nuns were political activists. We ought to be a little more 
clear-cut about this than we usually are. They were political activists on 
behalf of the Frente and somebody who is using violence to oppose the Frente 
killed them." Tampa Tribune , 25 December 1980, pp. 23A and 24A, col. 1. 

Secretary of State Alexander Haig testified as follows before the Foreign 
Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives: "I would like to suggest to 

you that some of the investigations would lead one to believe that perhaps the 
vehicle that the nuns were riding in may have tried to run a roadblock or may 
have accidentally been perceived to have been doing so, and there may have been 
an exchange of fire." See Foreign Assistance Legislation for Fiscal Year 1982 : 
Hearings before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs , 97th Congress, First 
Session 163, 1981. 

164 / The day after the deaths. President Jimmy Carter suspended aid to 
El Salvador, The New York Times , 14 January 1981. 

In April 1981, the United States Congress was considering aid to 
El Salvador. On 26 April, Embassy officials met with the Minister of 
Defence Garcia and with Vides Casanova and told them that the failure to 
investigate the case was jeopardizing United States aid. On 29 April, members 
of the National Guard were arrested and $25 million in military aid was approved 
the next day. See: Di Vicenzo, Janet, project ed., El Salvador: The Making of 

U.S. Policy, 1984-1988 , vol. 1. 

The day after members of the security forces were convicted, the United 
States Congress approved $62 million in emergency aid. See: USA Today , 

25 May 1984, p. 9A. See also The Boston Herald , 25 May 1984, p. 5. 

165 / Tyler Report, p. 63. 


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166 / Some of the evidence not included in the condensed version provided by 
the judge is as follows: (1) F. 68: judicial statement by 

Jose Dolores Melendez, local commissioner, one of the first witnesses, who 
notified the justice of the peace and identified the bodies as "unknown"; 

(2) Ff. 111-115: statements made to the Medrano group by Santago Nonualca, who 

saw the white minibus going to and returning from the scene of the crime; 

(3) Ff. 120-133: statements made by National Guard members to the Medrano group 

concerning Colindres' actions before and after the murders; (4) F. 255: court 

order to take statements from Vides Casanova, Medrano and Zepeda Velasco; 

(5) F. 264: judicial statement by Medrano, who remembered little about his own 

investigation . 

167 / In view of the total absence of investigations into the El Junquillo 
massacre, on 28 November 1992 the Commission on the Truth asked the Minister of 
Defence and Public Security, General Rene Emilio Ponce, to provide the 
Commission with the following information: details of the military units which 

took part in the military operation carried out between 10 and 12 March 1981 in 
the cantons of Agua Blanca and El Junquillo in the district of Cacaopera, 
Department of Morazan; the names of those responsible for ordering the operation 
and the orders they gave, together with the duties assigned to each military 
unit; the names of officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers and the 
duties assigned to them; a copy of the operations report received by the Armed 
Forces General Staff and/or the Ministry of Defence concerning the results of 
the operation, together with the information available to the Ministry of 
Defence on the events which occurred in El Junquillo canton and in the hamlet of 
Flor Muerto in Agua Blanca canton, district of Cacaopera, Department of Morazan, 
between 10 and 12 March 1981. 

At the time of drafting of this report, no reply to this request had been 
received from the Minister of Defence and Public Security. 

The Commission received testimony from persons who made statements 
concerning the events that took place in El Junquillo canton and from other 
persons from whom the witnesses had sought assistance. It also requested 
information from the Government of El Salvador and from Military Detachment 
No. 6 at Sonsonate, and summonsed an army officer. No reply was received to the 
request for information and the officer concerned failed to appear. 

All the above factors were taken into consideration. 

168 / During March 1982, there were some 700 journalists, photographers and 
television technicians in the country. Bonner, Raymond. Weakness and Deceit , 
Times Books, New York, 1984, p. 295. 

169 / F. 252 of the dossier. 

170 / Report I, p. 2. 

171 / The Commission checked the video tapes and cassettes recorded by the 
journalists at the prison. 


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172 / According to official information transmitted to the Commission by the 
armed forces, there was no military detachment at Usulutan at the time, only the 
Sixth Infantry Brigade, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel 
Elmer Gonzalez Araujo. 

173 / Record of the interrogation at Treasury Police headquarters. Annex II 
of report I . 


174 / Ff. 73 et seq. of the dossier. 
175/ F. 254 of the dossier. 


176 / Interrogation record, annex II, report I. 

177 / Report I, p. 3. 

178 / Folio Ff. 73 et seq. of the dossier. 

179 / A copy of the newspaper article can be found in annex III to report I. 
After studying the text of the press release. Colonel Gonzalez denied that it 
was the work of COPREFA, saying that it has been written by the Treasury Police 
and passed on to COPREFA for publication, together with the photographs. 


180/ F. 254 of the dossier. 


181 / Report I, and f. 254 of the dossier. 
182 / Ff. 246 et seq. of the dossier. 

183/ F. 246 of the dossier. 


184/ F. 246 of the dossier. 


185 / Supplementary report of the investigation into the circumstances 
surrounding the events which led to the death of four Dutch journalists on 
17 March 1982 in El Salvador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the 
Netherlands, The Hague, 28 May 1982 (hereinafter referred to as report II) . 

186 / Report II, p. 7. 

187 / Ff. 246 and 254 of the dossier. A Norwegian journalist staying in the 
same house as Wertz spoke to him as he was coming out of the shower, at 
6.30 p .m. 


188/ 

Report 

II, 

p. 

1 . 


189/ 

Report 

II, 

p. 

2 . 


190/ 

Ff. 117 

et 

seq 

. of the dossier. 

Pseudonym of Napoleon Romero Garcia 


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191 / "Martin" said that, about 50 metres from the meeting point, he saw a 
blue pick-up truck with two people in it on the road to Santa Rita (report II, 
p. 4) . Wertz, who was driving the minibus along the same road at the time, made 
no mention of this vehicle in any of his statements. 

192 / Report II, p. 4. The sergeant also said that a number of men were hit 
by the first shots fired. Report II, p. 14. 

193 / Report II, p. 6. 

194 / Report II. 

195 / Statement by the sergeant, report II, pp. 12 ff. 

196 / Sergeant Canizales, report II, p. 13. 

197 / According to information received by the Commission on the Truth from 
a number of sources, the intelligence data came from the Treasury Police, which 
had had the journalists under surveillance. Bonner, Raymond. Weakness and 
Deceit , p . 295. 

198 / Report II, p. 15. 

199 / F. 76 of the dossier. 

200 / Report I, p. 11. 

201 / Report II, p. 15. Dossier of the Office of the Attorney General of 
the Republic, ff. 1, et seq. 


202/ 

F. 254 

of 

the 

dossier . 

203/ 

F. 254 

of 

the 

dossier . 

204/ 

Report 

II, 

p. 

9. 

205/ 

Report 

II, 

pp. 

12 ff. 

206/ 

The Commission 

on the Truth received complaints on the case and 


interviewed witnesses, survivors and eyewitnesses, members of the Asociacion 
Nacional de Indigenas (ANIS) , members of the armed forces, civil defence 
members, members of popular organizations, members of the governmental Human 
Rights Commission and others. The dossier of the criminal proceedings was 
reviewed. The place of the arrests and the massacre was visited. Reports were 
also received from diplomatic and news sources, and governmental and 
non-governmental reports were reviewed. Carlos Sasso Landaverry, who was 
summonsed, did not appear before the Commission. 

207 / Statement by Captain Figueroa Morales, Ministry of Defence 
investigation. F. 428. 

208 / Judicial statement by Florencia Cruz Sanchez, mother of 
Gerardo Cruz Sandoval, 3 March 1983. F. 28. 


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209 / Statement by Marla Isabel Arevalo Moz, companion of Jose Guido Garcia, 
28 February 1983. 

210 / Judicial statement by Nicolasa Zetino de Perez, mother of 
Pedro Perez Zetino and Benito Perez Zetino, 28 February 1983. Ff. 19-20. 

211/ Ibid. 


212 / Statement by Felipa Bonilla, companion of Marcelino Sanchez Viscarra. 
Ff. 20-21. 

213 / Judicial statement by Francisca Jimenez de Martir, wife of 
Juan Bautista Martir Perez, 28 February 1983. Ff. 22-23. 

214 / Judicial statement by Santos Marquez, wife of Hector Manuel Marquez. 
Ff. 21-22. 

215 / Judicial statement by eyewitnesses Aminta Ayala de Ayala (f. 16) and 
Candelario Elena (f. 26) . See also statements by Adan Mejia Nataren (f. 15), 
Hortensia Dubon Ayala (f. 17), Ubaldo Mejia (ff. 18-19), 

Evangelina Escobar Mejia de Aleman (f . 25) and Rubenia Lopez Morales (f . 27) . 

216 / Statement by Hortensia Dubon Ayala, companion of 
Antonio Mejia Alvarado (f. 17) . 

217 / Judicial statement by Adan Mejia Nataren, father of 
Lorenzo Mejia Carabante and uncle of Romelio Mejia Alvarado, 26 February 1983. 
F. 15. 

218/ Ibid. 


219 / Judicial statement by Candelario Elena, father of 
Ricardo Garcia Elena, 1 March 1983. F. 26. 

220 / Judicial statement by Evangelina Escobar Mejia de Aleman, wife of 
Francisco Aleman Mejia, 1 March 1983. F. 25. 

221 / Judicial statement by Rebenia Lopez Morales, sister of Leonardo Lopez 
Morales, 2 March 1983. F. 27. 

222 / Judicial statement by Aminta Ayala de Ayala, wife of Alfredo Ayala, 

26 February 1983. F. 16. 

223 / Statement by Ubaldo Mejia, father of Martin Mejia Castillio. 

Ff. 18-19. 

224 / Colonel Elmer Gonzalez Araujo is also referred to indiscriminately as 
Colonel Araujo throughout the case. 

225 / Inspection of the body of Alfredo Ayala, ff. 4-5. 

226 / Statement by Captain Figueroa Morales, f. 428. 


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227 / According to all the soldiers who made depositions, they did not take 
anyone living in Las Hojas canton from their homes at any time, and they were 
not aware that any of their colleagues or superiors had done so. Ff. 424, 426, 
432, 433 and 434. See also: statements by Rufino Raymundo Ruiz, 

Jose Reyes Perez Ponce, Jose Sermeno, Rene Arevalo Moz, Teodoro Rodriguez Perez 
and the Ministry of Defence investigation. 

228 / Statement by Captain Figueroa Morales, f. 429. 

229 / Letter from Infantry Colonel Napoleon Alvarado to the Minister of 
Defence, 20 April 1983, f. 411. 

230 / Ibid., f. 442. This report was not submitted to the court until 
15 December 1986, more than three years later, under the instructions of the 
Vice-Minister for Defence. F. 443. 

231 / On 16 February 1984, the Attorney General gave his opinion on the 
merits of the evidence, and took the view that the corpus delicti had been 
established by the inspection and identification of the bodies and that the 
criminal responsibility of the defendants had been established with the 
testimony of the witnesses. See: f. 317. 

The defendants included Vicente Sermeno, Salvador Sermeno, 

Juan Aquilino Sermeno, Mario Perez, Rene Arevalo Moz, Santiago Sermeno, 

Marcial Caceres, Ileandro Perez, Pedro Perez, Vicente Sermeno, 

Alonso Inocente Caceres and Jose Domingo Caceres. 

232 / The accused were Marcial Caceres Rosa, Rene Arevalo Moz, 

Mario Arias Perez, Pedro Perez Gonzalez, Leandro Perez Gonzalez, 

Salvador Jose Sermeno and Vicente Sermeno. At that time, there were no 
eyewitnesses to the participation of identified members of the armed forces. 

F. 318. 

233/ F. 381. 


234/ F. 382. 


235/ F. 397. 


236 / He said, "... since all the proceedings requested by the Office have 
been carried out . . . without bringing about any change in the situation of the 
dismissed defendants in the case . . . the case is dismissed in favour of the 
defendants ...". F. 471. 

237/ F . 486. 


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238 / Article 1 of the Amnesty Act provided: "Art. 1. - Absolute and full 

amnesty shall be granted to all persons, whether nationals or aliens, who 
participated as direct or indirect perpetrators or as accomplices in committing 
political crimes, related common crimes or common crimes carried out by at least 
20 persons The Act contained a provision on pending cases. Article 4 (3) 

provided that "In the case of accused persons whose cases are pending, the 
competent judge shall of his own motion decree a general dismissal of 
proceedings in favour of the defendants without abatement of the action at law 
and shall order their immediate release." Article 4 (4) states: "In the 

situations regulated in paragraph 3, a judge or court that is for any reason 
hearing trials or proceedings brought for crimes indicated in this Act must 
refer them back within a period not exceeding 72 hours to the competent judge of 
first instance who was originally hearing those trials." Decree No. 805, 
vol. No. 297, Official Gazette No. 199, 28 October 1987. 

239 / Ff. 546 et seq. The Court determined, on the basis of the testimony 
of the injured parties and of Figueroa Morales, that more than 20 people had 
participated in the operation carried out on 22 February 1983 in Las Hojas 
canton, although only 14 of them had been identified. The Court also noted that 
the Legislative Assembly had considered the possibility of making an exception 
for the Las Hojas case, so that the accused would not benefit from the special 
amnesty, but that in the end the Legislative Assembly had tacitly included it in 
the amnesty by not treating it as an exception. Ff. 551-52. 


24 


240 / El 
September 


Salvador, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 
1992. Report No. 26/92, case No. 10,278, para. 1. 


241/ 

Report 

No. 

26/92, 

242/ 

Ibid . , 

para 

. 11 . 

243/ 

Ibid . , 

para 

. 4 . 

244/ 

Ibid . , 

para 

. 5. 

245/ 

The Commission re 


the Archdiocesan Legal Protection Office and the 
Commission, the dossier of the criminal case and 
for the Investigation of Criminal Acts. It also 
diplomatic sources and from witnesses. 


submitted by Americas Watch, 
non-governmental Human Rights 
the report of the Commission 
received information from 


The Commission asked Colonel Rene Arnoldo Majano for official information 
on the activities of the Fifth Brigade on the date of the incident, in 
particular the name of the officer who was acting as Chief of Service. There 
was no response to this request for information. 

246 / Statement by Second Lieutenant Arnoldo Vasquez Alvarenga and Deputy 
Sergeant Hernan Ayala Arias, at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public 
Security of the Ministry of Defence. 

247 / Statement by Lieutenant Galvez Galvez and Second Lieutenant 
Vasquez Alvarenga at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 


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248 / Statement by Deputy Sergeant Hernan Ayala Arias and Second Lieutenant 
Vasquez Alvarenga at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

249 / Statement by Second Lieutenant Vasquez Alvarenga at the offices of the 
Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

250 / Statement by Lieutenant Galvez Galvez at the offices of the 
Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

251 / Statement by Lieutenant Galvez Galvez at the offices of the 
Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

252 / Statement by Captain Pena Duran and Major Beltran Granados at the 
offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public Security. The latter said that he 
refused permission because he had to consult the commanding officers to see what 
they felt about that possibility. Beltran also said that Pena had informed him 
that units of the Jiboa Battalion had arrested several people and confiscated 
subversive material, and that he had added that the arrests had been witnessed 
by the villagers and that the previous night he had been ordered to eliminate 
the detainees. 

253 / Statement by Captain Pena and Lieutenant Galvez at the offices of the 
Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

254 / In his statement at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public 
Security, Captain Pena Duran said that he had contacted the Brigade a second 
time and had spoken with then Major Rodriguez Molina, requesting and receiving 
his permission to go to Brigade headquarters. 

255 / Captain Pena said in his statement at the offices of the Vice-Ministry 
of Public Security that he had spoken to the officers mentioned above in the 
order indicated. However, in the statement taken from him on this occasion, it 
was noted only that he had reported "on the situation" in San Francisco canton 
but not on the existence of the order to execute the detainee. When he 
testified before the Commission on the Truth, Captain Pena Duran said that he 
had expressly informed Rodriguez Molina, Turcios and Chavez Caceres of the 
existence of the order. However, he said that when he informed Chavez, the 
latter simultaneously received the report that the detainees had died in an 
ambush. Colonel Chavez Caceres said in his statement to the Commission on the 
Truth that Captain Pena had only informed him of the general situation in 
San Francisco canton. Colonel Turcios said that Captain Pena had reported to 
Major Rodriguez Molina, who had gone to the office of 
Lieutenant Colonel Turcios. They had then both gone to report to 
Colonel Chavez Caceres. He does not recall having received as part of Pena's 
report the information that the detainee was going to be executed. 

256 / Statement by Lieutenant Galvez Galvez at the offices of the 
Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 


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257 / Statements by Lieutenant Galvez Galvez, Reynaldo Aguilar Hernandez and 
Oscar Ceron Sanchez at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

Ceron Sanchez said that he heard Corporal Hernan Ayala Arias say that 
Lieutenant Galvez had handed over command to Major Beltran so as not to have 
problems with his soldiers. Corporal Ayala Arias did not refer to this fact. 

258 / They were, including the four persons detained earlier, the following: 
Jose Felix Alfaro, Jesus Zepeda Rivas, Maria Zoila Rivas, Nicolas Flores Alfaro, 
Jose Ulises Sibrian Rivas, Teresa de Jesus Argueta, Jose Maria Flores, 

Jose Atilio Rivas, Maria de Jesus Sibrian and Jose Francisco Alfaro. 

259 / Statement by Lieutenant Galvez Galvez at the offices of the 
Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

260 / Statements by Second Lieutenant Vasquez Alvarenga and 
Francisco Monzon Solis at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

On 6 March, at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public Security, 

Silverio Menjivar Garcia said that Sergeant Tobar Guzman had told him and other 
soldiers that "Major Beltran had ordered him to lay the mines in order to kill 
the detainees". 

261 / Statement by Sergeant Tobar at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of 
Public Security. 

262 / Statement by private Manuel de Jesus Herrera Rivera at the offices of 
the Vice-Ministry of Public Security. In his judicial statement, 

Hernandez Matute also said that Vasquez had designated Churute (Cruz Castro) , 
Beltran and himself to finish off the detainees. In his statement in the 
offices of the Vice-Ministry, Cruz Castro said that Vasquez designated him, 
(Mendez) Beltran and (Hernandez) Matute to finish off the detainees. 

263 / Statement by Sergeant Jorge Alberto Tobar Guzman and 
Napoleon Antonio Merino at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public Security 
of the Ministry of Defence, on 3 and 6 March 1989 respectively, and statement by 
Manuel de Jesus Herrera at the offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

264 / Statement by Francisco de Jesus Monzon Solis at the offices of the 
Vice-Ministry of Public Security. Judicial statement by 

Francisco Ponce Ramirez. Sergeant Tobar said in the same offices that a soldier 
had told him that the officers had ordered them to shoot after the mines were 
detonated, but not more than one round. Second Lieutenant Vasquez said that 
Major Beltran ordered the soldiers to shoot to simulate an ambush. 

265 / Statements by Manuel de Jesus Herrera Rivera, 

Napoleon Merino Martinez, Fermin Cruz Castro and Santos Victorino Diaz at the 
offices of the Vice-Ministry of Public Security. The first of these said that 
he saw Cruz Castro, Ponce Ramirez and Hernandez Matute. The second said that he 
saw Cruz Castro, Ponce Ramirez, Hernandez Matute and Mendez Beltran. In his 
statement, Fermin Cruz Castro mentioned himself, Hernandez Matute and 
Mendez Beltran. Santos Victorino Diaz said that he saw soldiers "Churute" (Cruz 
Castro), "Ciguanabo" (Mendez Beltran), "Chico Balazo" (Ponce Ramirez), Matute 
(Hernandez Matute) and Corporal Ayala Arias shot the wounded detainees. 


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266 / Statement by Lieutenant Galvez Galvez. 

267 / Statement by Lucio de Jesus Escoto Cordova at the offices of the Vice- 
Ministry of Public Security. After 3 March 1989, a document sent by the Fifth 
Brigade, based in San Vicente, listing the names of personnel in active service 
who had been in San Francisco canton, was added to the dossier of the court 
case. The name of Escoto Cordova was on the list (cf. folio 826) . 

268 / Folios 53 et seq. of the dossier. 

269 / Report of the Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts. 

270 / Ff. 867 and 966 of the dossier of the court case on the San Francisco 
massacre. He was also told that the accused were in custody at his disposal in 
the Vice-Ministry of Public Security. 

271 / Sixth document, f. 1180 of the dossier. 

272 / On 26 June 1990, the Supreme Court approved a motion by the Attorney 
General to transfer the case against Major Beltran from the San Vicente court to 
the Sixth Criminal Court in San Salvador. Seventh document, f. 1326 of the 
dossier . 

273 / Seventh document, f. 1243 of the dossier. 

274 / Seventh document, f. 1284 of the dossier. 

275 / Located on the Catarina estate. Department of San Vicente. 

276 / The operation began at 8 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. CIHD report, p. 1. 

277 / The following items were seized in the operation: Military materiel : 

3 machine-guns, 5 machine-gun magazines, 1 M-16 rifle, 1 AR-15 rifle, 

8 M-16 magazines, 17 9-millimetre cartridges, 3 40-millimetre grenades, 1 YAESU 
radio, 1 Sony mini tape recorder, 2 flashlights, 4 rucksacks and 2 soldier's 
canteens . 

Medicines and medical equipment: 30 injections, 3 antibodies for clinical 

use, a minor surgery kit, 1 sphygmomanometer and an unspecified quantity of 
antibiotics. CIHD report, p. 3. 

It should be noted that COPREFA news bulletins Nos. 114 and 115 of 17 and 
18 April 1989 did not indicate that the equipment seized included medicines and 
medical equipment. 

278 / Madeleine Lagadec's body was fully clothed in the photographs 
allegedly taken shortly after the executions and published by COPREFA. 

279 / Juan Antonio's skull had been smashed by a stone, the skulls of 
Clelia Concepcion Diaz Salazar and Isla Casares had bullet exit wounds in the 
occipital area, Maria Cristina' s body had, in addition to a shrapnel wound in 
the stomach, a bullet wound in the forehead with an exit wound in the back of 
the head. 


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280 / The autopsy was performed by Dr. Baccino and Dr. Quillien at the 
morgue of the Keufatras cemetery, Brest, France, at the request of the Public 
Prosecutor of the Court of First Instance of Brest. 

281 / "... the bullet penetrated the skull through the right temple and 
exited through the left temple; the trajectory was virtually within a frontal 
and nearly horizontal plane at the level of the base of the skull." Autopsy 
report signed by Dr. Baccino E. of the SEBILAU Service, Morvan Hospital Research 
Centre, Brest, and Dr. Quillien J., commissioned by the Public Prosecutor of the 
Brest Court of First Instance (2 May 1989) . 

282 / Robert H. Kirschner, MD . Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, Office of the 
Medical Examiner, Cook County, Chicago, Illinois. Physicians for Human Rights 
(Board of Directors, Executive Committee) . 

283 / Report on the autopsy of Madeleine Lagadec. Robert H. Kirschner, MD, 
Chicago, 10 January 1993. 

284/ Ibid. 


285 / Report of the Centre d' Applications et de Recherches en Microscopie 
Electronique . Prepared by Mr. Le Ribault, Doctor of Science, Chairman and 
Director of the Centre, assisted by Mrs. Monique Roze, whose expert opinions 
were requested by the Public Prosecutor of the Court of First Instance of Brest, 
France, 11 May 1989. 

286 / It is clear that Madeleine Lagadec was half-naked when she was shot, 
that she was dressed when her body was photographed by COPREFA, and that her 
trousers had been pulled down and she did not have any underwear on two days 
later when she was found by the witnesses who testified to the Commission. 

287 / Given the difficulty of analysing the residues of the impact of 
bullets and also the significant amount of phosphorus present, the Centre 
d' Applications et de Recherches en Microscopie Electronique puts forward two 
theories: if the phosphorus was from the explosive, its presence would mean 

that the shot was fired at close range. It is impossible to determine the range 
of the shot since neither the type of firearm nor the type of ammunition used is 
known. The second theory suggests that, if the phosphorus was not from the 
explosive, it could have been from incendiary bullets based on white phosphorus 
which ignites in contact with the air. In that case the absence of traces of 
explosive would indicate that the shot was fired at intermediate range (5 metres 
or more) . It would thus be neither a close-range (point-blank) nor a 
long-distance shot. 

288 / The Commission on the Truth reviewed all the relevant documentation on 
the case of Dr. Begona Garcia and obtained testimony from an expert forensic 
pathologist as to the validity of and the conclusions reached by the official 
examination of the corpse and the clinical autopsy. 

289 / Statement made by Lieutenant Colonel Jose Antonio Almendariz Rivas to 
the First Criminal Court of Santa Ana at 12.30 p.m. on 19 August 1991. 


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290 / Letter No. 0630, dated 12 September 1990, from Lieutenant 
Gilberto Garcia Cisneros of the National Police Third Command to the Commander 
of the Second Infantry Brigade. 


The two judges of the respective district stated that they had never 
received notice or a summons to examine any corpse. Letter No. 320, dated 
28 August 1991, sent by the Second Justice of the Peace of Chalchuapa, 

Raul Garcia Morales, and letter No. 457, dated 29 August 1991, sent by the First 
Justice of the Peace of Chalchuapa, Gloria Macal de Fajardo. Court dossier. 


291 / Examination made in the First Criminal Court, Santa Ana, at 5.15 p.m. 
on 14 September 1990. 


292 / Autopsy report. Pathology Department, Navarra Government Hospital, 
Navarra, Spain, 22 September 1990. Report prepared by the National Toxicology 
Institute, Ministry of Justice, Department of Madrid, at the request of the 
Second Court of Investigation of Pamplona (Navarra), Madrid, 30 October 1990. 
Report on the death of Dr. Begona Garcia Arandigoyen on 10 September 1990. 

Dr. Carlos Martin Beristain, November 1990. 


293 / The Commission on the Truth reviewed the dossiers of the 
investigations carried out by CIHD, the Second Justice of the Peace and the 
National Police in the case of the attack on FENASTRAS premises. It requested 
the armed forces, the National Police, the Treasury Police, the National Guard 
and CIHD to provide all relevant information on the 31 October 1989 bomb 
attacks. CIHD, the National Police and the National Guard provided the 
Commission with copies of the official dossiers and other documents concerning 
these incidents. 

The Commission interviewed military officers, CIHD investigators. National 
Police agents, including the Chief of the Explosives Unit, leaders of FENASTRAS, 
COMADRES staff and numerous victims and witnesses. It summonsed 
Colonel Ivan Reynaldo Diaz, Colonel Juan Vicente Eguizabal, 

Colonel Dionisio Ismael Muchuca, Colonel Carlos Mauricio Guzman Aguilar and 
Colonel Jose Antonio Almendariz Rivas, none of whom appeared. 

294 / National Police patrol headquarters informed the Police Operations 
Centre that "D/T NI" (unidentified terrorist criminals) had "planted and 
detonated an explosive device". (Police Operations Centre news summary for the 
period from 6 p.m. on 30 October 1989 to 6 a.m. on 31 October 1989, National 
Police . ) 

295 / A report provided to the Commission on the Truth by the National 
Police stated that FENASTRAS "is organically linked to the clandestine 
organization Fuerzas Armadas de la Resistencia Nacional (FARN/RN) and its aim is 
to organize the working class to support FMLN ideological plans for 
destabilizing the Government of El Salvador by raising political, social and 
economic issues and the issue of human rights violations at the national and 
international levels, thereby mobilizing the working class to fight against the 
Government " . 


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296 / On 18 September, National Police agents arrested 64 members of 
FENASTRAS who had taken part in a demonstration; some of them were tortured in 
police custody. El Mundo , 19 September 1989; confidential memorandum from 
Americas Watch. According to reports, one of those arrested, 

Julia Tatiana Mendoza Aguirre, later sued the National Police for alleged rape. 
She was one of those who died in the attack. The Commission received direct 
testimony from 364 people concerning cases of violence against trade unionists. 

297 / On 19 October 1989, persons unknown carried out an attack on the homes 
of Ruben Zamora and Aronette Diaz, widow of Mario Zamora. On 17 October, 

Ana Isabel Casanova Porras, the daughter of Colonel Edgardo Casanova Vejar, was 
murdered . 

298 / The attack left one civilian dead and more than five people injured. 
(Police Operations Centre news summary for the period 6 a.m.-6 p.m. on 
30 October 1989, National Police.) 

299 / According to article 149 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in the 
case of offences "which have caused serious public outrage because of the 
circumstances of the crime or the status of the persons involved in them, either 
as victims or as suspects, the judge of first instance shall, under penalty of 
incurring a fine of 200 colones, personally carry out all the investigation 
proceedings . . . " . However, the proceedings were carried out by the justice of 
the peace, without any involvement of the judge of first instance. 

300 / Inspection required by law, 31 October 1989, court dossier, folio 15. 

301 / Report by Lieutenant Juan Antonio Aguirre Guerra, Commander of the 
Investigation Battalion, 31 October 1989, CIHD dossier, folio 10. 

302 / Letter to the chief of the Investigations Section of the CIHD 
Executive Unit, signed by Detective Sergeant Juan Orlando Ramos Arevalo, 
dossier, folio 2. 

303 / It was also determined that the explosion occurred in the passageway 
between the access wall and the wall of the FENASTRAS offices. The final report 
ruled out the possibility that the explosive device had been thrown from the 
street or that it had been a car bomb. See the report of the Technical 
Assistance Department of the Explosives Unit of the National Police, undated, 
CIHD dossier, folio 11. 

304 / Letters to Colonel Hector Heriberto Hernandez, Director of the 
Treasury Police, Colonel Carlos Armando Carrillo Schlenker, Director of the 
National Guard, and Colonel Dionisio Ismael Machuca, Director of the National 
Police, dated 7 November 1989, CIHD dossier. The Treasury Police sent a reply 
to CIHD, describing nine of the victims as members of Restistencia Nacional. 

305 / FBI report, 24 January 1990, court dossier, folio 50. 

306 / Ibid. 

307/ Ibid. 


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308 / At the time, the Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario (MNR) was a member 
of the political alliance Convergencia Democratica, which was part of the Frente 
Democratico Revolucionario (FDR) . 

309 / The Socialist International is a world-wide grouping of social- 
democratic, labour and socialist parties. 

310 / Guillermo Ungo died a few months later in Mexico after a long illness. 

311 / Objectively speaking, the Republic of Guatemala was not a safe place 
for the Salvadorian opposition to engage in political activity, mainly because 
of the domestic situation in Guatemala itself and the long-standing close ties 
between extreme right-wing Salvadorian groups and similar groups in Guatemala. 

312 / Office of the President of the Republic. Presidential Staff. 

Security Department. Caso: Oqueli Colindres , Guatemala, May 1990, p. 2. 

313 / Statement by Mario Antonio Sanchez Urizar, Letter No. 093 from the 
Mixco National Police substation to the magistrate of the First Criminal Court , 
12 January 1990. 

314 / Autopsy report No. 045-90 from Dr. Julio Cesar Pivaral Santos to the 
judge of the Jutiapa Court of First Instance , Jalpatagua, 15 January 1990. 

315 / Office of the President of the Republic, Presidential Staff. Security 
Department. Caso: Oqueli Colindres , Guatemala, May 1990, p. 10. 

316 / Ibid., p. 10. 

317 / Robert Goldman and Tom Farer, Evaluation of the investigation and 
reports made by the Government of the Republic of Guatemala , October 1990, 
p . 32 . 

318 / A source reported that the Presidential Staff of the Republic of 
Guatemala obtained transcripts of routinely traced and recorded radio broadcasts 
which would have shed light on the incident. One expert in Guatemala confirmed 
that, technically speaking at least, the Presidential Staff itself could have 
made the recordings. The same expert confirmed that the basic errors in the 
police investigation were unusual, unless there was a definite unwillingness to 
make an investigation in this case. 

319 / Letters sent to the President of the Republic of Guatemala, 

Mr. Serrano and to the Minister of Labour, Mr. Zolorzano. Interview with the 
Ambassador of Guatemala to the Republic of El Salvador. Visit by the Chairman 
of the Commission on the Truth to Guatemala City on 14 December 1992. Telephone 
request to President Serrano in January 1993. 

320 / Dossier No. 73-DD H-90 of the office of the Attorney General of the 
Republic of El Salvador. 


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321 / The Commission on the Truth interviewed eyewitnesses and a number of 
officials who had been working at the United States Embassy at the time. It 
also reviewed the dossier of the criminal proceedings and inspected the scene of 
the arrest and disappearance of the students. In order to protect confidential 
sources, such sources are not quoted in this report. 

322/ 


323 / All the testimony indicates that at least one car entered the Embassy 
courtyard. There are indications that more than one car entered. 

324 / Judicial statements by Mr. Florentin Melendez, dossier, f. 39, and 
Mr. Santiago Orellana Amador, ff. 41-42. 

325 / Dossier, ff. 50, 52. 


326 / See the report on the case in this chapter. 

327 / On 31 January, the National Guard central barracks was searched, but 
the disappeared students were not found. F. 43. Cells at the central barracks 
of the Treasury Police, the Municipal Police and the National Police were 
searched without success. Ff. 39-40. Both the Chief of the National Police and 
the Director-General of the Treasury Police denied having detained the students. 
Ff. 52, 55. 

328 / Declaration by the "Ejercito Secreto Anti-Communista" , 11 May 1980. 

329 / Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Case No. 9844, 

El Salvador. 

330 / Ibid., Letter from Jemera Rone (Americas Watch) to the Commission on 
the Truth, dated 26 August 1992. 

331 / Statement made by Cruz Antonio Lopez Hernandez to the Human Rights 
Commission of El Salvador (governmental) on 1 April 1987. 

332 / Letter dated 23 February 1987 to Edwin Corr, United States Ambassador 
to El Salvador, from Congressman James L. Obestar et al. 

333 / Letter dated 26 February 1987 to Jose Napoleon Duarte, President of 
El Salvador, from Congressman James L. Obestar et al. 

334 / Regular meeting of CIHD, 1987, record No. 12, p. 22. According to the 
summary, the investigation was made "at the request of the Human Rights 
Commission (governmental)"; however, the Head of CIHD at the time, 

Mr. Julio Alfredo Samayoa, says that it was made at the request of the Ministry 
of Foreign Affairs. 

335 / CIHD has informed us that he submitted his resignation approximately 
six months ago and has probably left the country. 

336 / "Summary of the investigations conducted during the period from 
15 May 1987 to 30 May 1987". CIHD, 30 May 1987, pp . 2-3. 


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337 / Ibid . , p . 3 . 

338 / Regular meeting of CIHD, 1987, record No. 16, p. 26. That same day, 
CIHD administered a lie detector test to its source. The result was favourable. 
"Summary of the investigations conducted during the period from 15 May 1987 to 
30 May 1987", CIHD, 30 May 1987, pp . 3-4. CIHD then planned to summons and take 
statements from the members of the air force and the National Guard implicated 
in the arrest and transfer and referred to in the reports identifying 
Rivas Hernandez. "Work plan", CIHD, 30 May 1987, pp . 1-2. 

339 / Regular meeting of CIHD, 1987, record No. 17, p. 27. There is no new 
report on the case until 11 August 1987. Ibid., 1987, record No. 27, p. 40. 
Thereafter, there are no further reports in 1987. The records of CIHD meetings 
for 1988 were not transmitted to the Commission on the Truth. 

340 / The Commission interviewed many witnesses, civilian and military, and 
vetted public documents on the case. 

341 / Copy of the Paratroop Battalion log of incoming and outgoing vehicles, 
provided to the Commission on the Truth on 5 December 1992. 

342 / The Commission on the Truth had access to official documents 
confirming that Colonel Rodriguez was on duty on 18 and 19 August 1989. 

343 / Copy of the Paratroop Battalion log of incoming and outgoing vehicles. 
Information available to the Commission on the Truth shows that it was common 
practice, in cases of disappearance, not to keep official records of arrests. 

344 / El Mundo , 21 August 1989, 4 September 1989 and 6 September 1989. 

345 / On 5 September 1989, through the Archdiocesan Legal Protection Office, 
a sister of Juan Francisco filed a writ of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court 
of Justice. Sara Cristina's mother also requested a remedy of habeas corpus for 
her daughter, but the Court never dealt with the case. 

346 / Letter dated 23 August 1989 from the Director-General of the Treasury 
Police to the Archdiocesan Legal Protection Office, contained in the 
Massi Chavez case file. Archdiocesan Legal Protection Office. 

347 / Case No. 1906, Human Rights Commission of El Salvador. 

348 / To date, the armed forces have not transmitted the information 
requested from the Treasury Police. 

349 / National Police report transmitted to the Commission on the Truth, 

23 December 1992. 

350 / Report of the former National Guard transmitted to the Commission on 
the Truth on 20 January 1993. 

351 / The convent was - in the words of the experts - a " primary synchronous 
common grave". Patricia Bernardi, Mercedes Doretti and Luis Fondebrider, 
Archaeological Report , p . 15. 


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352 / Archaeological Report , p. 18. 

353 / When the exhumed bone remains were analysed, the expert 
anthropologists were able to identify 117 anatomically articulated skeletons, as 
indicated in their report. After the laboratory analysis was done, it was 
possible to identify at least 143 skeletons. See Clyde Snow, John Fitzpatrick, 
Robert H. Kirschner and Douglas Scott, Report of Forensic Investigation . 

354 / Report of Forensic Investigation , p . 1 . 

355 / The basis for this assertion is "the simultaneous presence of both 
deciduous and permanent teeth" and "the fact that their primary and/or secondary 
centres of ossification had not fused" ( Archaeological Report , pp. 17-18; 
cf . ibid . , p . 8 ) . 

356 / Ibid., p. 18. 

357 / Report of Forensic Investigation , p . 1 . 

358 / "... The remains of a foetus were wedged in the pelvic region, with 
the head between the two coxal bones and on the sacrum" ( Archaeological Report , 
p. 8) . As indicated in the laboratory report, it was determined that the mother 
"was in the third trimester of pregnancy" ( Report of Forensic Investigation , 
p. 1) . " " 

359 / Archaeological Report , p. 16. 

360 / Ibid., p. 16. 

361 / Ibid., p. 11. 

362 / Ibid., p. 11. The report went on to say: "We are referring to grid 

squares B2, B3, C3 and the south-west corner of C2, where 82 bodies - almost 
70 per cent of the skeletons - and 18 of the 24 concentrations of bone remains - 
almost 80 per cent - were found. In these grid squares, 159 bullet fragments 
were found: 102 fragments in B3; 13 fragments in B2 ; 30 fragments in C3; and 

14 fragments in C2 . In these grid squares, all these bullet fragments were in 
direct contact with bone remains. In other words, 159 bullet fragments had 
struck a large proportion of the 82 skeletons and 18 concentrations discovered 
in this zone . " 

363 / Ibid., p. 17. 

364 / Ibid., p. 16. The report supported this assertion as follows: 

"(1) Observation of peri-mortem lesions, together with bullet 
fragments and holes in the floor underneath such fragments. This 
observation applies to skeletons 2, 5, 9, 10, 26, 57, 92, 110 and 113, 
located in grid squares Cl, C2, Cl, D2, B4, C3, B2, B3-C3 and B3 
respectively . . . ; 

" (2) The only way such shots could have produced holes in the floor is 
by shooting downwards, either straight down or diagonally; 


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"(3) In the case of skeletons 2, 10, 92, 110 and 57, the bullets which 

made the holes in the floor were found in the area of the skull; in the 

case of skeleton 26, in the cervical vertebrae (very close to the skull)". 

365 / Report of Forensic Investigation , p . 2 . 

366 / Report of Forensic Investigation , p . 3 . 

367 / "24 separate weapons were identified, consistent with at least 
24 individual shooters" ( Report of Forensic Investigation , p. 3) . 

368 / Ibid., p. 3. The experts who exhumed the bone remains reached the 
same conclusion. Cf. Archaeological Report , p. 17. 

369 / Archaeological Report , p. 17. 

370 / Archaeological Report , p. 18. 

371 / Report of Forensic Investigation , p . 1 . 

372 / They also stated that all their conclusions "are stated with a 
reasonable degree of medical and scientific certainty" and that they were 
willing to testify in a court of law regarding these conclusions. See Report of 
Forensic Investigation , p . 3 . 

373 / The Washington Post , 29 April 1981. 

374 / United Church Observer , October 1980, p. 40. Report on Human Rights 
in El Salvador , compiled by Americas Watch and the American Civil Liberties 
Union, 26 January 1982. 

375 / Statement by the Government and armed forces of Honduras, 

24 June 1980. 

376 / Judicial Case No. 218-92, folio 4. Chalatenango Court of First 
Instance, 26 October 1992. 

377 / To investigate the case, the Commission on the Truth reviewed the 
previous investigations and the court dossier, as well as documents from various 
other sources, and interviewed many confidential witnesses. For their 
protection, these sources are not quoted in this report. 

378 / The mass, at 6 p.m., was in memory of the mother of a friend of his, 
Jorge Pinto, Jr., owner of the opposition newspaper El Independiente . 
Announcements of the mass had been published in two newspapers. La Prensa 
Graf ica and El Diario de Hoy , on Monday, 24 March 1980. Court dossier, 
ff. 42-43. 

379 / Monsignor Romero lived in a small house on the grounds of the Hospital 
de la Divina Providencia. 

380 / El Diario de Hoy , San Salvador, 11 February 1980, p. 53. Signed 
article . 


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381 / El Diarlo de Hoy , San Salvador, 23 February 1980, p. 34. Signed 
article . 

382 / Sermon delivered on 17 February 1980. 

383 / He and several colleagues met in late February 1980 with Hector Dada, 
one of the new members of the second Junta. Dada mentioned the death on 
23 February of one of the leaders of the Christian Democratic party, 

Mario Zamora (see report in this chapter on the assassination of Zamora) . He 
also mentioned that he was aware of death threats against himself and the 
Archbishop, among others. Interview with priest Rafael Urrutia. 

Monsignor Romero said that he took the threat seriously, and even said 
privately that "... I have never been so afraid, not even in the time of 
General Romero ...". Interview with Roberto Cuellar. 

Interview with Hector Dada. 


Monsignor Romero received warning of equally serious death threats from the 
Papal Nuncio in Costa Rica, Monsignor Lajos Kada. Diary of Monsignor Romero. 

Subsequently, on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 March, the nuns working in the 
Hospital de la Divina Providencia, where the Archbishop lived, received 
anonymous telephone calls threatening his life. 

384 / Interview with Roberto Cuellar. 

Interview with priest Rafael Urrutia. 

In the first week of March, Monsignor Romero met with the United States 
Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, whom he told of the threats on his 
life. Although the Archbishop did not give any specifics, he was keenly aware 
of the imminent danger and even confided to Ambassador White that: "My only 

hope is that when they kill me they don't kill many of us". Interview with 
Robert White. 


385 / See report in this chapter. 

386 / Statement made to the Commission for the Investigation of Criminal 
Acts by priest Fabian Conrado Amaya Torres. Court dossier on the investigation 
of the death of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, case No. 134/80, Fourth Criminal 
Court, ff. 592 et seq. 


387 / Police investigation conducted on 10 March 1980, transmitted to the 
courts on 14 March 1986. The bomb was made of 72 sticks of commercial dynamite 
which could be activated either by a timing device or by radio and were 
sufficient to kill several of those officiating at the altar and those sitting 
in the front pews. "(...) Moreover, it is a device which has never been planted 
by subversives who have always been active in our country, unless it is true 
that they have new experts, for two Japanese are known to have arrived (...) . 
There is no supply in the country of electric detonators of the type used" . 

Court dossier, ff. 494 et seq. 


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Neither the authorities of the Catholic Church nor the Archdiocesan Legal 
Aid Office received any official communication on the results of police action 
and all indications are that there were no further investigations. Interview 
with Roberto Cuellar. Interview with Monsignor Ricardo Urioste. 

388/ Sermon of 23 March 1980. 


389 / Court dossier, f. 4. 

390 / Interview with Judge Atilio Ramirez Amaya. 

391 / The dossier does not contain the record of this inquiry, or the 
X-rays. Ibid. 

392/ Ibid. 


393 / Majors Roberto D'Aubuisson, Jorge Adalberto Cruz Reyes, 

Roberto Mauricio Staben; Captains Alvaro Rafael Saravia, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, 
Victor Hugo Vega Valencia, Eduardo Ernesto Alfonso Avila; Lieutenants 
Federico Chacon, Miguel Francisco Bennet Escobar, Rodolfo Isidro Lopez Sibrian, 
Carlos Hernan Morales Estupinian, Jaime Rene Alvarado y Alvarado; 

Antonio Cornejo Jr., Ricardo Valdivieso, Roberto Muyshondt, Fernando Sagrera, 
Amado Antonio Garay, Nelson Enrique Morales, Andres Antonio Cordova Lopez, 
Herbert Romeo Escobar, Fredy Salomon Chavez Guevara, Marco Antonio Quintanilla, 
Jose Joaquin Larios and Julian Garcia Jimenez. Order of 12 May 1980 issued by 
Major Jose Francisco Samayoa, Acting Commander of CITFA, placing the detainees 
at the disposal of the Military Examining Judge. 


394 / cf. Chronology. 


395 / Order of 12 May 1980 issued by Major Jose Francisco Samayoa, Acting 
Commander of CITFA, placing the detainees at the disposal of the Military 
Examining Judge. Exhibit No. 10 (contents not recorded) . 


396/ Ibid. Exhibit No. 7. 


397 / The diary contains notes on "223 ammunition", a type of .22 calibre 
bullet and "2 Bushmasters" and "5 AR-15s", both of these being types of rifles 
that fire .22 and .223 calibre bullets. 


398 / For example, "Amado" refers to Amado Garay; "Avila", "el pelon 
Avila", "Eduardo Av." and "Eduardo A." refer to Captain Eduardo Avila; "Negro", 
"Nando Sagrera" and "Nando S." refer to Fernando Sagrera; and "Saravia" refers 
to Captain Alvaro Rafael Saravia himself. For the involvement of all of these 
persons, see below. 

399 / "General Framework for the Organization of the Anti-Marxist Struggle 
in El Salvador", document seized at the San Luis estate on 7 May 1980. Arrest 
warrant of 12 May 1980 placing the detainees at the disposal of the Military 
Examining Judge, exhibit No. 4. 


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400 / Mr. Rey Prendes, a leader of the Christian Democratic party, made a 
statement to the press a few days after the video was shown; he denounced the 
simulation of "Commander Pedro Lobo" and revealed the criminal's true identity 
and background. Court dossier, ff. 152 et seq. 

401 / In August 1985, the Office of the Attorney General presented the 
statement of Roberto Adalberto Salazar Collier, "Pedro Lobo", to the Fourth 
Criminal Court. On that occasion, he made the same allegations but did not 
mention D' Aubuisson' s name. One of the alleged conspirators presented a written 
statement in February 1986 denying the allegations against him. Court dossier 
ff. 152 et seq. and f. 241. Judge Zamora's official requests to television 
stations to supply him with a copy of the video with Salazar Collier' s 
statements were denied. The Attorney General's Office insisted that the 
stations reveal who had delivered and picked up the video, but the judge 
declared that there were no grounds for such a request. Court dossier, ff. 189, 
200 , 210 , 212 . 

402 / Major D'Aubuisson cited a book entitled La conspiracion del silencio 
by Manuel de Armas, which claimed that Cuban agents carried out the murder. 

La Prensa Grafica , "Hace revelaciones mayor D'Aubuisson" (The revelations of 
Major D'Aubuisson), Friday, 6 September 1985, p. 2. El Diario de Hoy , 

Friday, 6 September 1985, p. 3. 

403 / The armed forces appeared officially before the Commission on the 
Truth in October 1992 and alleged that FMLN had been responsible for the 
Archbishop's assassination without offering any evidence to back that assertion. 

404 / Court dossier, f. 389. 


405 / Statement by Amado Antonio Garay to CIHD on 19 November 1987. Court 
dossier, f . 274 . 

406/ Ibid. 


407 / Ibid., f. 270. 


408/ Ibid. 


409 / Ibid., ff. 269 and 285. 


410 / Court dossier, f. 289. 


411 / Court dossier, f. 299. 


412 / Public letter of Mr. Hector Antonio Regalado dated 13 March 1989. 

413 / He later became Chief of Security of the Legislative Assembly when 
D'Aubuisson was President of the Assembly. 

414 / When he appeared before the Commission, Mr. Sagrera denied all 
involvement . 

415 / Of these 817 cases, 644 (79 per cent) were extrajudicial executions. 


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416 / Left-wing actions that fell into the same category as violence 
perpetrated by the death squads are dealt with in the section of this report on 
abuses committed by the guerrillas. 

417 / For details of how the death squads operated, see the account in this 
report of the assassinations of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero and Mario Zamora 
and the Sheraton case. 

418 / The Organizacion Democratica Nacionalista, founded in 1963 by 
General Jose Alberto Medrano. Its network was national in scope, with 
representatives in each municipality, canton and community, and it had from 
50,000 to 100,000 members. Members of ORDEN cooperated closely with security 
forces. One of their main tasks was to "detect" and report to the authorities 
the presence and activities of "subversives". They also took part in direct 
operations designed to intimidate those perceived to be enemies. 

419 / See Chronology. 

420 / After the 1979 coup, about 80 armed forces and security forces 
officers were retired. Interview with Hector Dada. 

421 / "General framework for the Organization of the Anti-Marxist Struggle 
in El Salvador", document confiscated at the San Luis estate on 7 May 1980, 
order of 12 May 1980 placing the detainees at the disposal of the Military 
Examining Judge, exhibit No. 4. 

D'Aubuisson received military training in Taiwan. 

422 / Ibid. 

423/ Ibid. 


424 / For those involved in the D'Aubuisson group, see the Archbishop Romero 
assassination case. 

425 / The Commission interviewed witnesses and reviewed relevant documents 
from both confidential and public sources. To protect confidential sources, 
these are not quoted in this report. 

426 / A witness maintains that, when they took this attitude, Zamora began 
to get up to leave and the meeting was on the verge of ending. Another leader, 
however, suggested that not everything in the document was necessarily true; 
after that, the meeting continued and the PDC political position became more 
flexible, at least as far as the document submitted to the armed forces was 
concerned . 

427 / FPL leader who committed suicide in Managua. 


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428 / Napoleon Duarte was the most important leader of the Christian 
Democratic Party and his leadership extended beyond the party. He was a 
candidate for President with the Alliance in 1972, then exiled to Venezuela, a 
member of the third Revolutionary Junta, Provisional President in 1980 and 
finally elected President from 1984 to 1989. He died in 1989 after a long 
illness . 

429 / The accusations were made in paid advertisements on television and in 
the press and in speeches broadcast on radio and television. 

430 / Aronette Zamora is the current leader of the Union Democratica 
Nacionalista (UDN) Party. 

431 / Ruben Zamora was also a Christian Democratic leader at the time. He 
then left the party and was one of the founders of the Movimiento Popular Social 
Cristiano (MPSC) . 

432 / The line was dead for approximately 15 minutes. 

433 / The Commission received testimony about the incident. This included 
testimony from people who corroborated the statements of the surviving 
witnesses. The Commission went to the village of San Juan Opico and made 
various inquiries. 

The military authorities that were asked by the Commission to provide 
information did not do so. The Artillery Brigade informed it that it did not 
have the relevant file. Not all the officers summonsed appeared before the 
Commission . 

434 / Slang name given to villagers who collaborated with the security 
forces or the military by providing them with information about activities going 
on in the area or the personal activities of villagers. During these 
operations, they accompanied the soldiers and pointed people out to them. 

435 / By law, it is the justice of the peace who must make the preliminary 
inquiries, that is conduct a medical examination of the victims' bodies, 
assisted by a forensic expert, order the bodies handed over to the families for 
burial and take the first statements from witnesses. 

436 / The Commission received public information from governmental and 
non-governmental sources and from individuals. 

437 / An attempt was made on 23 September, when Viera and 
Francisco Menjivar, an official of the Ministry of Agriculture, were gunned down 
in front of the UCS offices in Nueva San Salvador. Viera was wounded and his 
companion killed. 

438 / A review of existing testimony and other evidence, including the 
confessions of the two gunmen, statements by witnesses and by other members of 
the Intelligence Section of the National Guard and information received from 
governmental and non-governmental authorities, provides sufficient evidence that 
the events occurred as described below. 


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439 / Statement by Jose Dimas Valle Acevedo, 23 August 1982, f. 793. Also 
23 September 1982, f. 831. 

440 / He was nicknamed "fosforito". 

441 / Statement by Valle Acevedo, f. 793. 

442 / Statement by Jose Luis Sanchez, 18 August 1982, f. 755. See also 
statement by Amilcar Ruiz Linares, 19 August 1982, f. 757. A statement by 
Roque Gonzalez, 19 August 1982, f. 758, indicates that Lopez Sibrian usually 
carried an Ingram or a sub-machine-gun. 

443 / Statement by Captain Eduardo Avila, 21 September 1982, f. 806. 
Statement by James Kevin Murphy, 30 October 1986. Statement by 
Gordon Fitch Ellison, 30 October 1986. A hotel employee also remembers having 
heard these words, although he did not make a statement to the judicial 
authorities . 

See also statement by Teresa de Jesus Torres, 9 June 1981, f. 481. She 
noted that Christ's group made derogatory comments about Viera's group. 

444 / Statement by Avila, f. 806. 

445 / Statements by James Kevin Murphy and Gordon Fitch Ellison, 30 and 
31 October 1986, regarding what Avila told both of them when he was given the 
lie detector test on 21 September 1982 at the General Staff. See also the 
statement by Torres, 24 June 1981, f. 480. 

446 / Statement by Torres, f. 481. 

447 / Statement by Valle Acevedo, f. 793. 

448 / Ibid. 

449 / Statement by Gomez Gonzalez, 23 August 1982, f. 760. Statement by 
Uribe Lopez, 27 August 1982, f. 767. 

450 / Statement by Gomez Gonzalez, f. 760. See also statement by 
Uribe Lopez, 29 September 1982, f. 887. 

451 / Statement by Gomez Gonzalez, f. 760. He said he did not believe that 
Lopez Sibrian had actually consulted Moran since Lopez Sibrian had returned so 
quickly. Uribe Lopez said that Lopez Sibrian had been away for only three 


minutes . 

Statement 

by 

Uribe 

Lopez, f. 

887 . 


452/ 

Statement 

by 

Gomez 

Gonzalez , 

f . 

760. 


453/ 

Statement 

by 

Gomez 

Gonzalez , 

f . 

760. 

Statement by Valle Acevedo, 


f. 794. 


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454 / Statement by Gomez Gonzalez, f. 760. Statement by Valle Acevedo, 
f. 794. Other statements indicate that Avila handed over a 9-millimetre weapon. 
See, for example, statement by Jose Dagoberto Sambrano to the Commission for the 
Investigation of Criminal Acts on 29 October 1986. 


455 / Statement by Gomez Gonzalez, f. 760. Statement by Valle Acevedo, 
f. 794. Both Gonzalez and Valle Acevedo identified photographs of Hans Christ 
as the person who had taken them to where the victims were. 


456 / Statement by Gomez Gonzalez, f. 760. Statement by Valle Acevedo, 
f. 794. Statement by Torres, f. 482. 


457 / Marroquin Lara, the waiter who actually saw the two men shooting, told 
a witness that immediately after the murder, one of the gunmen stood over 
Viera's head and fired several bullets directly into it. Statement by 
Carlos Alfredo Portillo Morales, 11 June 1982, f. 717. 


458 / The gunmen thought the house was Avila's, but Avila said that it was 
his brother's. See statement by Avila, f. 86. 

459 / Statement by Valle Acevedo, f. 794. Statement by Gomez Gonzalez, 
f. 760. 


460 / Ibid. 

461 / Statement by Sanchez on f. 755. Statement by Salvador Raymundo, 

19 August 1982, f. 789. See also the interview with Valle Acevedo in the 
Commission for the Investigation of Criminal Acts, 24 January 1986, and the 
interview with Sanchez by that Commission on 27 January 1986. The day after the 
murders, Gomez Gonzalez told him that he had killed Viera, but Sanchez could not 
recall any more details of the conversation because he took it as a routine 
matter typical of the missions entrusted to them. 

462 / Avila was summonsed before the Commission on the Truth but did not 
appear . 

463 / Moran was summonsed before the Commission on the Truth but did not 
appear . 

464 / This instruction was given in the course of apparently aggressive and 
harsh interrogations involving threats, deprivation of food and use of drugs to 
which both Valle Acevedo and Gomez Gonzalez alleged they were subjected. 

See interview with Valle Acevedo and Gomez Gonzalez in the Commission for 
the Investigation of Criminal Acts, 24 January 1986, para. 3. 

465 / On 17 September 1982, Moran was questioned by the Medrano commission. 
On that occasion, he said that he had never seen Lopez Sibrian about the matter 
and that there had been no discussion about the perpetrators. He then said that 
although he "definitely" knew Gomez Gonzalez, he could not remember whether 
Gomez Gonzalez had been his bodyguard on the night of the murders. 


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Statement by Denis Moran, f. 790. There is no question that Gomez Gonzalez 
was Moran's bodyguard on the night of the murders. 

466 / His ginger hair was dyed black, his moustache was shaved off, he wore 
make-up, he was in uniform and he had a hat like the others. 

467 / Lopez Sibrian remained in the armed forces until President Duarte, 
under pressure from the United States Government, discharged him on 
30 November 1984. He was then arrested for running a kidnapping ring and is 
still in prison. Lopez Sibrian has consistently maintained his innocence, even 
to the Commission on the Truth. 

468 / The Commission could not locate Mr. Christ to request him to appear 
before it. 

469 / The Commission received information from various sources concerning 
the execution of mayors by FMLN. In the two cases which are described in 
detail, the Commission received from witnesses direct testimony which it 
proceeded to substantiate. With regard to the other cases, it requested 
information from FMLN; in its reply, the latter conceded that the execution of 
mayors was a policy approved by FMLN, and it supplied the names of some of the 
mayors who had been executed. 

470 / FMLN, La legitimidad de nuestros metodos de lucha , El Salvador, 

Central America, 30 October 1988, p. 15. 

471 / The Commission reviewed the trial records, interviewed the accused and 
requested information from both FMLN and the Government. 

472 / In order to prove to the Commission that there was a directive from 
the General Command that advisers and military personnel should be considered 
legitimate targets, FMLN supplied the following information: (a) a list of 

names of United States advisers and military personnel killed in El Salvador 
between February 1983 and March 1987; (b) copies of reports in the newspaper 

Venceremos (official FMLN newspaper) concerning United States intervention in 
the armed conflict and the death or execution of some of those advisers; and 
(c) a copy of a press release containing a statement by United States 
Senator Edward M. Kennedy. According to the press release, the Senator was 
concerned at the number of United States advisers and military personnel 
assigned to the country. The statement was dated 1990. 

473 / According to the statements made by Juan Miguel Garcia Melendez and 
Abraham Dimas Aguilar in trial No. 42/86 before the First Military Court, they 
had only very general prior knowledge of the attack before it was carried out. 

474 / According to information from the testimony on ff. 365 and 531 of 
trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court. 

475 / According to cross-checking of the testimony on ff. 343, 365, 449, 485 
and 531 of the trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court. 

476 / According to cross-checking of the statements on f. 8 from trial 
dossier No. 67/A-89 of the Fifth Criminal Court. 


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477 / During trial No. 42/86 in the First Military Court, witnesses made the 
following statements: the shots were coming from all sides (f. 46); the first 

shots were fired by a United States marine sitting in the Flashback restaurant 
and he was the one who shot the guerrilla (f . 365) ; one American was carrying a 
firearm at the time (ff. 155 and 449); one marine had a firearm in his hands at 
the time (f. 453); the shot which wounded the guerrilla was fired by one of the 
marines (f. 512); one individual fled through the rear of Chili's restaurant 
(f . 531) . 

478 / In addition to testimony asserting that there was cross-fire, we find, 
attached to ff. 48, 305 and 308, reports concerning 34 spent cartridges found 
inside the Mediterranee and Chili's and the results of examinations of vehicles 
which were at the scene at the time of the attack. The latter established that 
two vehicles, one of them the attackers' vehicle, had bullet holes in their 
bodywork . 

479 / Ff. 2 to 23 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court. 

480 / According to the police report on f. 139 and witnesses' statements in 
ff. 453 and 531 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court. 

481 / Police report on f. 139 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First 
Military Court. 

482 / F. 285 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court. 

483 / La Prensa Grafica , 22 June 1985; f. 357 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of 
the First Military Court. 

FMLN leaders maintained that the categorization of the executed United 
States marines as a military target had been the responsibility of members of 
the commando who planned the action. The latter, they said, had sufficient 
evidence to demonstrate that the four United States marines were in El Salvador 
to carry out military intelligence work. The information was obtained by means 
of : 


1. Full-time personal monitoring of the activities of each marine; 

2. Radio intercepts of the armed forces communication system; they said 
that the names of the executed persons came up constantly in these 
communications . 

The Commission asked for written evidence to back up the statements, but 
was informed that they were not in a position to provide such material since, 
owing to the nature of the action and the fact that it had taken place during a 
conflict, it was extremely difficult to have documentation regarding that type 
of decision. 

FMLN also informed the Commission that, in the subsequent evaluation of the 
operation, it had been determined that the commando had erred in the "choice of 
place" because the possibility that civilians might be endangered had not been 
taken into consideration. For that reason, orders had been issued to suspend 
attacks on that type of objective in similar places. 


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484 / Ismael Dimas was interviewed by Radio Venceremos of FMLN the week 
after the attack. His pseudonym was "Ulises". In the interview, he 
acknowledged having been the military chief who directed the operation and one 
of those who fired on the marines. This is corroborated by the information 
provided by the Government of El Salvador, FMLN and the witnesses who were 
interviewed. According to the information obtained as a result of the 
Commission's investigation, Ismael Dimas died later in combat. 

485 / In this extrajudicial confession, the defendants also confessed to 
having participated in a series of incidents that they said took place between 
1979 and 1985, but did not give any places or specific dates (ff. 108, 122 and 
130 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court) . 

486 / For example, at the trial, no judicial statement was taken from the 
defendants. Instead, there is a document "confirming" the statements they had 
made to the National Guard. The document does not specify what statements the 
defendants had made and had therefore confirmed. 

487 / The 1987 Amnesty Act was enacted in October 1987 by Legislative Decree 
No. 805. 


488 / F. 742 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court. 


489 / F. 752 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court. His 
appeal was rejected on the grounds that he was not a party to the criminal 
proceedings . 


490 / F. 770 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court. 

Several newspapers published the reactions of United States officials who warned 
that it jeopardized $18.5 million in aid to El Salvador which was in the process 
of being approved by Congress. 


491 / F. 770 of trial dossier No. 86 of the First Military Court. 


Under Salvadorian law, in certain situations the General Command of the 
Armed Forces acts as a special court. When the decision regarding amnesty was 
brought to that court, it determined that the Convention to Prevent and Punish 
Acts of Terrorism Taking the Form of Crimes against Persons and Related 
Extortion that are of International Significance and the Convention on the 
Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, 
including Diplomatic Agents, were applicable to the case. 

492 / F. 937 of trial dossier No. 42/86 of the First Military Court. 

493 / There is insufficient evidence for the Commission to be able to say 
whether or not he participated in the operation. As in the case of the other 
defendants, he too, at his trial, was denied the benefit of the National 
Reconciliation Act. 


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494 / Andrade was arrested in 1989. FMLN leaders say that he was 
responsible, inter alia , for having given Government forces information about 
the biggest arms shipment ever seized from FMLN during the conflict. FMLN 
considers Andrade a traitor for having revealed this information to the 
Government of El Salvador and the United States Government, which he did while 
under arrest. 

495 / To investigate this incident, the Commission interviewed some 70 
individuals, many of them confidentially. The Commission has checked the 
information provided by witnesses against that obtained in other interviews and 
against court, police, newspaper, governmental, non-governmental and private 
sources . 

496 / In his first two statements, Miranda said that his pseudonym was 
"Jose". On 3 February 1988, Miranda identified Romualdo Alberto Zelaya, who 
died on 27 January 1988 in a clash with National Police, as "Jose". F. 750. 

497 / The number of men involved has been confirmed by what several 
witnesses saw. Vicente Vazquez and Jose Mejia saw the driver of the pick-up 
truck first, and a few minutes later saw two people boarding the same vehicle. 
Manuel de Jesus Serrano observed two individuals sitting on the sidewalk of the 
parking lot minutes before the murder. Aminta Perez saw two individuals by a 
lamp post next to the parking lot minutes before the murder. F. 187. 

498 / F. 94N, letter from Noe Antonio Gonzalez, ballistics expert, to the 
chief of the CIHD Unit, 1 November 1987. 

499 / F. 96N, letter from Noe Antonio Gonzalez, ballistics expert, to the 
chief of the CIHD Unit, 1 November 1987. 

500 / The National Police informed the Commission that ballistics experts do 
not have information on armed forces ammunition. See letter from the 
Director-General, Francisco Salinas, 23 February 1993. 

501 / Anaya was the fourth member of CDHES-NG to be murdered; three of them 
had disappeared. See Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Underwriting 
Injustice: AID and El Salvador's Judicial Reform Program , April 1989, p. 135. 

502 / One of the five factions in the Frente Farabundo Marti para la 
Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) . 

503 / See testimony of Herbert Anaya, 7 March 1986. 

504 / See f. 508N, note by Corporal Adan de Jesus Moran Rivera, 26 May 1986. 
Complaint by Mirna Perla de Anaya to the Archdiocesan Legal Protection Office, 

27 May 1986. He was one of a number of people belonging to popular 
organizations whom the Treasury Police arrested around that time. 

505 / F. 527, statement by Herbert Anaya, 8 July 1986. Anaya says that he 
was subjected to physical and mental ill-treatment during his detention. See 
testimony of Herbert Anaya, 7 March 1986. 


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506 / See, for example, the paid announcement placed by Christian Legal Aid 
in El Mundo on 27 October 1987, "CGT tambien condena asesinato" (CGT also 
condemns murder), El Mundo , 27 October 1987. Paid announcement placed by the 
Human Rights Commission (governmental) in La Prensa Grafica , 27 October 1987. 
Paid announcement placed by the Danish and Swedish sections of Amnesty 
International in El Mundo , November 1987. Paid announcement placed by the 
Danish and Swedish sections of Amnesty International in El Mundo , November 1987. 
P. Glickman, "El Salvador: US Mildly Condemns Rights Figure's Assassination", 

26 October 1987. 

507 / El Diario de Hoy , "50 mil colones ofrece Duarte por Asesinos de Anaya" 
(Duarte offers 50,000 colones for Anaya's murderers), 26 October 1987. 

508 / Members of ERP confirmed that he was a member of that organization. 

509 / Interview with Miranda. F. 677, statement by 
Officer Miguel Antonio Pineda Varela of the Technical Operations Department of 
the National Police, 18 January 1988. 

510 / According to newspaper reports, the International Committee of the Red 
Cross (ICRC) did not visit him until 4 January, after the initial period of 
72 hours in detention was over. See D. Farah, "Salvadoran Expands on Role in 
Killing; Prisoner Rebuts Family, Reaffirms Rebels Ordered Rights Death", The 
Washington Post , 8 January 1988, see also f. 775, Miranda's retraction before 
the court. 

511 / F. 708. He does not remember when and said it had no effect. F. 775, 
Miranda's retraction. He told the Commission that once he had been given one or 
two tablets which he could not identify. 

512 / See "Samayoa Denies Miranda Bribed", translation and transcript of a 
report by Guevara, M. A., Canal 12 Television , 8 January 1988, in Foreign 
Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), 12 January 1988, p. 12. 

513 / See D. Farah, "Salvadoran Expands on Role in Killing", The Washington 
Post , 8 January 1988. J. LeMoyne, "Salvadoran in Jail Talk, Tells of 
Assassination", The New York Times , 8 January 1988. M. Miller, "Jailed 
Salvadoran Student Tells Disputed Version of Killing of a Rights Activist", The 
Los Angeles Times , 9 January 1988. 

514 / Interview with Miranda. See also f. 708. According to Miranda, those 
same people took the comforts away when he retracted his statement. The former 
Minister of Justice has denied that members of the National Police were able to 
visit him, stating that the only people who were able to visit him were those 
whom Miranda agreed to see. 


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515 / The then Minister of Justice, Julio Samayoa, attributed the delay to 
the fact that court personnel were on holiday and therefore the defendant could 
not be handed over. See: "Duarte Comments on Case", translation and transcript 

of a report by M. A. Guevara, Canal 12 Television , 6 January 1988, in FBIS, 

12 January 1988, p. 11; recording of the press conference. President Duarte 
stated that the delay was permissible because Miranda had been arrested for one 
offence and his participation in the murder had emerged later. See El Diario de 
Hoy , "Dice Reo Confeso: el ERP 'Purgo' a Anaya Sanabria Para Culpar F.A." 

("Prisoner confesses: ERP 'purged' Anaya Sanabria in order to put the blame on 

the armed forces"), 6 January 1988. Recording of the press conference. 

516 / Judge Luis Edgar Morales Joya fled El Salvador after an attempt on his 
life on 9 August 1991. 

517/ See f. 775. 


518 / F. 937N. The judge's decision reads as follows: "There is no doubt 
that . . . the confessions of the accused ... do not meet the intrinsic 
requirements of any confession . . . " . He found that Miranda' s statement was 
"the only incriminating evidence against him" and was thus not sufficient to 
move on to the adversary stage. 

519 / F. 943-53. It argued that the confession "is sufficient evidence 
because it is consistent with the facts and with the accounts given by [three] 
witnesses" and because "it has not been established in the trial that the 
defendant confessed because he had been tortured, and the [first] two 
confessions are consistent with one another. See f. 951. 

520 / In July 1991, the First Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of 
Justice reported a decision to change the venue of the trial to the Fifth 
Criminal Court of San Salvador, f. 1046. It had already been transferred to the 
Mejicanos Criminal Court. 

521 / F. 1133. Civil penalties - the payment of 20,000 colones in 
compensation to Mirna Perla, Anaya's widow, and the corresponding loss of a 
number of political and civil rights - were also imposed. With respect to 
Anaya's murder, the judge decided to leave the final decision, on whether or not 
to apply the Amnesty Act, to the Commission on the Truth. 

522 / The Commission dismisses, for lack of evidence, the theory that the 
murder was an ordinary crime. 

523 / It is necessary to take into account how much time had elapsed between 
the murder and the time the photos were shown, and the fact that the witness 
only caught a glimpse of the murderers. 

524 / Moreover, according to a lie detector test carried out by CIHD on 
1 January 1988, Miranda was not lying when he said that he had participated. 

F. 889. 


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525 / The Archdiocesan Legal Protection Office has claimed that the armed 
forces were responsible. Americas Watch expressed concern that the murder might 
point to a reactivation of the death squads. L. Gruson, "Killing in Salvador 
Imperils Peace Talks", The New York Times , 28 October 1987. "La viuda de Anaya 
culpa a la Policia de Hacienda" (Anaya's widow blames the Treasury Police) . 
"Dirigentes del ERP tambien culpan a las fuerzas armadas salvadorenas , 
o a escuadrones de la muerte" (ERP leaders also blame the Salvadorian armed 
forces or death squads for the murder) . 

526 / According to a colleague at CDHES-NG, Anaya reported that while being 
held by the Treasury Police he had received a death threat from a senior officer 
of that force. In Mariona, Anaya was warned by a prisoner that prison guards 
were saying that they would kill him once he got out. F. 694, statement by 
Reynaldo Blanco in the First Criminal Court, 6 February 1988. 

Anaya's father was arrested by the National Guard in March 1987 and 
interrogated about his son's activities. Anaya denounced his father's detention 
publicly. F. 707, paid advertisement in El Mundo , 21 March 1987. 

After his release from Mariona, complained that he was being watched 
constantly by unknown persons, including some people using a vehicle with the 
registration number P-50-200. F. 702, paid advertisement by CDHES-NG on 
3 June 1987. It never received an answer from the security forces to its 
request for information about the vehicle. 

Radio Verdad, a clandestine right-wing station, denounced Anaya, apparently 
on 25 July 1987, as the "pernicious and corrupt head of the unofficial Human 
Rights Commission" and reported that "this Mr. Anaya, who does so much harm with 
so much disinformation about the country, will soon be exposed; Salvadorians 
must know who are the charlatans who head the groups which are seeking to 
destroy the Republic". F. 701, transcript of the broadcast. 

On 3 August 1987, El Diario de Hoy reported that military intelligence had 
demonstrated the link between FMLN and humanitarian groups. According to the 
newspaper, a military source had said that "the people must know . . . the real 
truth about the conflict in our country, but must not allow themselves to be 
misled by those false Salvadorians who are only doing grave harm to the 
population". F. 706. 

527 / F. 694, statement by Reynaldo Blanco, 6 January 1988. 

528 / A few months before the murder, CDHES-NG complained that some 10 
heavily armed men had tried to force their way into its headquarters. F. 703, 
paid advertisement in El Mundo , 3 June 1987. 

529 / Letter from Mirna Perla de Anaya to Mr. Edmundo Vargas Carreno, 
Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 

15 April 1988. She also stated that the night before the murder, the house was 
watched by unknown persons in civilian clothing driving a blue pick-up truck and 
a silver-coloured Toyota limousine. 


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530 / In addition to examining the contents of the judicial dossier, as well 
as publications and reports on the case, the Commission interviewed many 
witnesses. It also obtained part of Mr. Guerrero's personal files on the 
assassination of the Jesuit priests. 

531 / He was one of the founders of the Partido de Conciliacion Nacional in 
1962 and a co-author of the 1952 Constitution, President of the Legislative 
Assembly (1962-1965), Minister for Foreign Affairs (1969-1971), Chief of Staff 
for the President (1982), PCN Presidential candidate (1984) and President of the 
Supreme Court (1984-1989). 

532 / El Diario de Hoy , "Asesinan a balazos al Dr. Francisco Jose Guerrero" 
(Dr. Francisco Jose Guerrero shot to death), 29 November 1989. 

533 / Judicial statements by Victor Manuel Rivera Monterrosa and 
Lilia del Milagro Avendano de Guerrero. 

534 / Statement by Victor Manuel Rivera Monterrosa, 1 December 1989. 

Folio 173 of the dossier. 

535 / Statement by witness Marcelino Antonio Hernandez Ayala, 

11 December 1989. Folio 228 of the dossier. Testimony of 

Manuel de Jesus Maldonado, on-the-spot police inspection, 28 November 1989, 

Folio 88 of the dossier. See also La Prensa Grafica , "Asesinado ayer 
ex-presidente de la corte Dr. Francisco Jose Guerrero" (Dr. Jose Guerrero, 
former President of the Court, assassinated yesterday), 29 November 1989. 

Diario Latino (San Salvador), "Asesinan a 'Chachi' Guerrero" (Chachi Guerrero 
assassinated), 28 November 1989. 

536 / Police report. Folio 79 of the dossier. 

537 / Statement by Victor Manuel Rivera Monterrosa, 1 December 1989. Folio 
173 of the dossier. 

538 / Report on the forensic medical examination, undated. Folio 84 of the 
dossier . 

539 / Report of the Ballistic Technical Section of the National Police, 

1 December 1989. Folio 168 of the dossier. 

540 / Ibid., statement by Otto Rene Rodriguez. Folio 145 of the dossier. 

541 / Testimony of Elias Cruz Perla, police report. Folio 88 of the 
dossier. Statement by Marcelino Antonio Hernandez Ayala. Folio 228 of the 
dossier. A number of spent cartridges were found some 20 metres behind 
Mr. Guerrero's car. Sketch of the site, folio 43 of the dossier. 

542 / Examination of the body of Angel Anibal Alvarez Martinez. Folio 8 of 
the dossier. 

543 / Examination, 4 April 1990. Folio 276 of the dossier. 


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544 / Police report. Folio 168 of the dossier. The judicial dossier 
contains no information on the bullets that hit Erazo Cruz. 

545 / Testimony of Elias Cruz Perla to CIHD, 28 November 1989. Folio 88 of 
the dossier. 

546 / The paraffin test is a technical chemical analysis used to determine 
whether a person has fired a weapon. The test is based on the presence of 
nitrate products deposited on the back of the hands when a firearm is fired. 

547 / Statement by Erazo Cruz at the National Police medical clinic, 

30 November 1989. Folio 153 of the dossier. 

548 / Accused's statement by Erazo Cruz, 5 December 1989. Folio 193 of the 
dossier. Erazo Cruz recanted these statements before the court and also before 
the Commission on the Truth. Furthermore, "Efrain" had no known ties to the 
guerrillas (see below) . 

549 / Order for detention pending trial, 7 December 1989. Folio 219 of the 
dossier. The judge subsequently added the offences of causing grievous bodily 
harm, being a member of a subversive association and escape involving the use of 
violence (see below) . 

550 / Accused's statement by Erazo Cruz, 7 February 1992 (folio 405 of the 
dossier) confirmed by his testimony before the Commission, 4 September 1992. 


551/ 

Penal 

Code, 

article 

152 . 

552/ 

Penal 

Code, 

article 

171 . 

553/ 

Penal 

Code, 

article 

375. 

554/ 

Penal 

Code, 

article 

480. 

555/ 

The charges 

of escape involving the use of violence and being a member 


of a subversive association remained pending in the Sixth Criminal Court. Then, 
at the end of July, the defence requested application of the National 
Reconciliation Act with a view to abatement of the criminal action at law 
relating to the subversive association charge. Article 1 of the Act states that 
amnesty shall be granted to all persons who participated in committing political 
crimes. Article 7 (c) of the Act states that in the case of accused persons 

whose cases are pending, the judge shall of his own motion decree a general 
dismissal of proceedings in favour of the defendants. The defence also 
requested the judge to order Erazo Cruz's release with regard to the charge of 
escape involving the use of violence. According to article 250, a person held 
pending trial shall be released when the penalty for the offence is a fine or a 
custodial penalty not exceeding a maximum of three years' imprisonment. The 
judge accepted the position of the defence and ordered a general dismissal of 
proceedings . 

556 / Statement by Erazo Cruz to CIHD, 4 September 1989. 


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557 / El Mundo , "Hija de 'Chachi' Guerrero relaciona muerte de su padre con 
caso jesuitas" (daughter of Chachi Guerrero links her father's death with the 
Jesuit case), 30 January 1992. 

558 / Description of the incident by Jose Napoleon Duarte: Duarte: Mi 

Historia , pp . 185-186. This version does not contradict the accounts of the 
incident subsequently published by FMLN. 

559 / Originally the FMLN list contained the names of 34 people, nine of 
whom had disappeared after they were captured by Government forces. Likewise, 
in the active and secret negotiations, FMLN insisted on linking the release of 
Ines Duarte to that of 25 mayors and 96 war-wounded guerrillas (the latter 
finally totalled 101) . It is important to mention the significant mediating 
role played by the Salvadorian church in the persons of Monsignor Rivera y Damas 
and Father Ignacio Ellacuria. The documents of FMLN and the Government of El 
Salvador likewise reveal clearly the mediating role played by Governments such 
as those of Colombia, Panama, Mexico and France, and by individuals such as 
Chancellor Willy Brandt and Hans Wischnewski of the Socialist International. 

560 / Translated from English. British Broadcasting Corporation, "Release 
of Duarte's Daughter and Other Hostages in El Salvador". Source: Radio 

Venceremos 0045 GMT, 25 October 1985. 

Another piece of information indicating FMLN involvement is to be found in 
the account of a guerrilla who says: 

"16 September . . . Schafik Handal also got up early. He had spent a 
few days with us and was now hurrying to participate in the negotiations 
concerning Duarte's daughter". Las Mil y Una Historias de Radio 
Venceremos , Jose Ignacio Lopez Vigil, UCA Editores, p. 401. 

561 / The Supreme Court referred to the Commission 30 cases involving the 
death of judges, but according to the information received, two of the judges 
had died of natural causes.